High times

Arnona offers all the amenities of the city, but with a rural feel

Arnona521 (photo credit: Adi Benzaken)
(photo credit: Adi Benzaken)
Arnona is located at the highest peak in Jerusalem – at an average of 800 meters above sea level.
In a “hill town” like the capital, many homes have good views, but in Arnona the views can be spectacular.
On clear days one can see as far east as the Dead Sea and the hills of Jordan in the distance. At all times, one can see the surrounding area, including the Arnona River that gave the neighborhood its name. With biblical country all around, the magnificent views from the terrace – or at least most of the Arnona terraces – is one of the major selling points of the neighborhood.
Like most of Jerusalem, Arnona has history.
While it has a panoramic view of an area with a history of over three millennia, the history of the neighborhood itself is much more recent. It was built in 1931 as a southern agricultural suburb of Jerusalem, and designed by the famous German- Jewish architect Richard Kaufman, who designed many of the neighborhoods in west Jerusalem.
His designs were based on the Bauhaus principle as translated to urban planning: clean lines, spaciousness and a lot of greenery.
During the 1930s and 1940s, Arnona was Jerusalem’s southernmost neighborhood. It was cut off from central Jewish Jerusalem by the Arab neighborhoods of Talbiyeh and the German Colony, and in those very turbulent times the area was under constant threat. During the War of Independence it was on the frontlines. At the war’s end and after the cease-fire agreements, the area became a de facto part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
After the Six Day War the area was annexed by Israel, and Arnona became one of the new ring neighborhoods built on the annexed land.
Today, over 40 years later, Arnona has become one of the most popular areas in the capital and homes there are in great demand. The growing neighborhood is home to approximately 3,500 households, with around 16,000 inhabitants.
The central areas of Arnona are built up, but there is development work going on at the edges.
When first planned, it was meant to house families who lived in Amidar public housing and wanted to upgrade. Consequently, the new buildings were relatively basic. During the early 1990s, the city planners had second thoughts. The need to build modern, upscale homes for the immigrants that started to swarm in from the former Soviet Union created an upward trend in the neighborhood. With the building of more modern, higher-end housing, the perception of Arnona improved considerably and with it, the real estate value of both land and dwellings. The trend has continued to this day.
Currently, Arnona has a heterogeneous population, religious and secular, middle-aged families and older who have upgraded their living style, and young families on the lookout for relatively inexpensive housing in comparison to that of more centrally located areas of Jerusalem.
Young families tend to gravitate toward Arnona Hatzeira (young Arnona), the newer part of Arnona where homes tend to be smaller and consequently less expensive. Older families favor the older part of Arnona. In that part, there are small apartments built in the 1970s and 1980s as well as larger, more spacious apartments, semidetached dwellings and single-family homes.
Prices in Arnona are much lower than in Rehavia or Talbiyeh, but some houses fetch premium prices.
Recently, a large, single-family home on a large plot of land was sold for NIS 6 million. The neighborhood also provides a high quality of life to its residents, with cafes, post offices and banks as well as all the other necessities of life.
Orit Raz is a real-estate broker with Re/Max real estate, operating in the Arnona area. “One of the attractions of Arnona is that it is accessible and is rural in nature,” she says. “The neighborhood was once agricultural in nature, and it has retained part of this ambience. There is a lot of greenery and since it is an outlying neighborhood, one can see open, virgin spaces.
“In addition, it is very accessible by road and bus.
And last but not least, it is less expensive than other areas in the capital, and this includes neighboring Baka and the German Colony.
“I would compare Arnona to Ein Kerem; they are both rural in character but with a difference – Arnona is much more accessible.”
Arnona is a large neighborhood and prices tend to vary according to location.
The least expensive three-room apartment in Arnona will not cost less than NIS 1.5 million.
On average, a three-room apartment will cost NIS 1.75million. A four-room apartment will cost some NIS 2m.; a five-room apartment NIS 2.4m.; a penthouse NIS 2.8m.; a semidetached residence NIS 3.5m.; and a single-family home can cost upward of NIS 4.5m.