Compared to such ancient cities as Jerusalem, Acre, Safed and Jaffa, Petah Tikva is a foundling. In relation to the modern Zionist communities, however, it is one of the oldest urban centers in Israel. Founded 130 years ago in 1878, it was one of the countries first Jewish agricultural settlements. But much water has flown down the Yarkon River since then, and it is now a large, bustling city covering an area of 10,000 acres with a population of just under 200,000. Given the city's proximity to Tel Aviv and its holding of necessary land reserves, Petah Tikva is set to expand rapidly. At a time when real estate prices in Tel Aviv and the established satellite towns of Ramat Gan and Givataim are reaching record highs, prices in Petah Tikva prices have remained steady. The average price of a 120-sq.m. apartment in the better areas of Petah Tikva is about $190,000, according to Robert Boevich of Re/Max Petah Tikva, compared to $ 350,000 in Tel Aviv, Givataim and the middle class areas of Ramat Gan. Consequently, Petah Tikva, which is barely 12 kilometers from Tel Aviv may well experience a real estate boom similar to that experienced by Rishon Lezion to the south, a city with historical roots similar to those of Petah Tikva, also having been founded over 100 years ago as an agricultural settlement. The municipality of Petah Tikva has plans to further develop the city and widen its bounds by building new neighborhoods and more high-rise residential tower blocks, among other things. By the year 2030, it expects to have a resident population of 350,000 to 400,000. The city has a large hi-tech industrial park and the city fathers hope that gradually these high-income families will decide to make Petah Tikva their home. City Hall has plans for long-term development as well as for the short-term. It is rejunevating the center of the city, upgrading infrastructures and the central market shouk. These plans, which are scheduled to be completed in five years time, will create business opportunities in commerce, but primarily in real estate. "This area is very run down and needs urgent rehabilitation," Dan Swisa, general manager of the municipality of Petah Tikva told The Jerusalem Post, describing the center of town as roughly the area encompassed by Schtemper Street to the east, Montefiori to the west, Baron Hirsch to the north and Hovevei Zion to the south. "Luckily, despite the fact that the city was founded 130 years ago and as Israeli cities go it is ancient, there are no strikingly historical buildings so there is nothing to protect and development work can go unimpeded." When the current plans are completed in 2012, they are expected to create not only a much more agreeable and inviting atmosphere for commerce but a dramatic increase real estate prices, as well. According to Ran Wiernik, chairman of the Real Estate Appraisers Association in Israel, residential real estate prices in that area are set to rise from an average $1,400/sq.m. to $2,400. Real estate developers already are already taking advantage of the situation. In the area under development itself, there is no land available for building purposes because it is completely built up. However, adjacent to the area and near Montefiori Street, 30 dunams, or 30,000 sq.m. of private land has been made available for building purposes. The relevant authorities already have authorized the building of over 600 residential units in five tower blocks. Currently, only one such tower is under construction. The City Tower, which is being built by the Daniel Yitzhaki group and will have 17 floors and parking. Prices there are indicative of what buyers might expect once the rejuvenation project is complete. Apartments at City Tower are being offered for sale at an average of $220,000 for a 100 sq.m. property, or $2,200/sq.m. - that's well above the $120,000-$140,000 cost for a 100 sq.m. apartment in the center of the city, even in a relatively new building would cost from $120,000 to $140,000.