American Colony TA 88 224.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Very few people know that in one of the more secluded corners of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa metropolitan area there is an area called the American Colony. It is very small - less than 32 dunams. But every square meter is saturated with the recent history of the holy land.
The area is being developed as a high-end residential area for people with deep pockets. It is located in an urban no-man's-land north of Jaffa and south of Tel Aviv. It is bordered by the Neveh Zedek neighborhood to the north, Jerusalem Blvd. to the south, the Mediterranean Sea to the west and the American Village to the east.
The area has many historic buildings, and most of them will be restored. Near the western end of the promontory is the old Jaffa train station. Together with Jerusalem's historic train station, it goes back nearly 130 years. It will be restored and be the center of a commercial and entertainment center.
The whole area is planned as something of a hybrid between Neveh Zedek and Old Jaffa: Old Jaffa because of the many entertainment establishments, restaurants, coffee shops, art galleries and clubs; Neveh Zedek because of its trendy homes.
The first part of the area that is earmarked for development is the commercial and entertainment area of the old train station. It is scheduled to be completed by next June, and its opening will be a central part in the ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of Tel Aviv.
The second part of the program is the upgrading of the American Colony compound. The land was bought by the American Village Corp., a subsidiary of the Darinel Business Corp. The company also bought land in the vicinity of the old train station and plans to build two 20-story tower blocks. One will function as a luxury hotel; the other will have approximately 220 luxury apartments.
Currently, the American Village project in the American Colony compound is being built. The compound includes many historic buildings, such as old Park Hotel, which is now a hostel. Kaiser Wilhelm and Augusta Victoria of Germany stayed there during their visit in 1898. The development of the area includes period-type plazas and stone-paved streets.
"The development will comprise of three two-story buildings with attics built around a central plaza, in a style that will blend with the old historic buildings," Darinel Business CEO Droe Koren told The Jerusalem Post. "There will be 23 residential units, and they will be served by a communal spa area, for the exclusive use of the residents, that will include a swimming pool, gym and sauna.
"The whole project will be completed in the first quarter of 2011. No cost is being spared in recreating the old architectural ambience of the old American Colony, while constructing apartments that incorporate the latest in gracious, comfortable living."
When completed, the area will have 2,500 to 3,000 residential units. But it will take a long time to complete because there is a lot of work to be done. The area to the west of the American Colony compound is very dilapidated. Before the War of Independence, this area was one of the more expensive residential areas of Jaffa. But after the war its Arab inhabitants left and the stately houses were used to house new immigrants. They deteriorated over time and today the area has become a slum.
Before it is upgraded, the current residents will have to be eased out, something that is both expensive and time consuming.
In my opinion, many of those apartment buildings should not be torn down to make room for new residential tower blocks; instead, they should be restored to their former glory. I would be perfectly willing to live in one of the restored apartments.
The planned residential tower blocks in the vicinity of the old train station are still in the planning stage; construction work is to commence in 2011 and will be completed in 2014.