Still affordable

With some bargains still to be found, the traditionally secular Kiryat Hayovel is becoming more attractive to haredim.

monster kiryat hayovel_521 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
monster kiryat hayovel_521
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Jerusalem is the most non-homogeneous city in the country. The city is divided into three distinct areas: secular, haredi and Arab. But there is an increasing trend on the city’s real-estate scene whereby haredi families are moving into the secular neighborhoods.
This has already occurred in several areas of town. Ramot Eshkol, for example, built in the late 1960s as a secular neighborhood in north Jerusalem, has gradually become a haredi neighborhood.
The same thing seems to be happening now in Kiryat Hayovel.
This trend is disconcerting to some because it is changing the demographic makeup of Jerusalem, squeezing the mainstream majority and increasing sectorial elements.
But despite the fact that the shifting demographics are causing concern to those who want to keep secular Jerusalem the way it is, the trend was to be expected. oung, secular families prefer to move out of the city, while the birthrate within the haredi community is very high.
Kiryat Hayovel, in southwestern Jerusalem, was built in the early 1950s. Like many such neighborhoods in Israel, it was built to accommodate the large waves of new immigrants that came after the establishment of the state. Jerusalem’s population increased from 650,000 in 1948 to 1.8 million by the mid-1950s.
Before 1948, the area was known as Beit Mazmil. It was renamed Kiryat Hayovel (jubilee town) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Jewish National Fund.
The area started as a tent city. When tens of thousands of new immigrants swamped the country, there was no available housing. The only way to provide instant shelter from the elements was to set up tents. Luckily, the British Army in Palestine had left behind a lot of surplus canvas, and there were enough tents to go around.
The Construction and Housing Ministry started building Kiryat Hayovel in 1952. The need for housing was so urgent that the British Mandatory ordinance requiring that all buildings in Jerusalem be faced with Jerusalem stone was waived in Kiryat Hayovel. Functional architecture was the order of the day. Like many such shikunim, as they were called, the houses were small and cramped. They were mostly inhabited by Jews from Arab countries who had to leave their place of birth after the establishment of the state.
Flat roofs, stucco facades and no ornamentation were characteristic of early construction in the neighborhood, and many examples of those early spartan dwellings remain to this day.
That was 60 years ago. Today, Kiryat Hayovel has a population of 25,000. It is located on the main road to the Hadassah-University Medical Center in Ein Kerem, between Ramat Denya and Kiryat Menahem.
With time, Kiryat Hayovel underwent a physical and demographic change. Prices in the area were never high by Jerusalem standards; therefore, by the 1960s young couples started moving in. After a while, it became a favorite location for teachers and university professors. Consequently, the area took on a more upscale aspect, and residents began enlarging their homes and beautifying the area. In addition, upscale sectors were built which included large private homes lining Rehov Shmaryahu Levin.
Kiryat Hayovel has a commercial center, a community center, three public swimming pools and a library. The neighborhood’s claim to fame is a whimsical playground sculpture set in Rabinovich Park. Commonly called “The Monster,” the sculpture’s three red tongues serve as slides. The Golem was designed by French sculptor Niki de Saint-Phalle.
“Recently, Kiryat Hayovel has seen an influx of young couples seeking affordable housing,” says Alyssa Friedland, owner of Re/Max Vision Real Estate in Jerusalem.
Mostly religious families who cannot afford to purchase apartments in nearby Bayit Vagan have realized that this neighborhood is a good option, and they can get larger apartments for a lower price. Being close to Hadassah also attracts buyers who work in the medical field and want to be close to their workplace.
“Investors have realized the potential of the neighborhood,” says Friedland, “since the low-price housing and good rental prices give investors a nice return of between 4 and 5 percent.”
Prices in Kiryat Hayovel range from NIS 850,000 to NIS 1.3 million for three-room properties, and NIS 1.5m. to NIS 1.7m. for four rooms. Five-room cottages and villas start at NIS 2.3m. and go up to NIS 3m. and more.
Benny Steinberg, who is in charge of the western areas of Jerusalem at the Anglo Saxon real estate agency, believes that prices in Kiryat Hayovel will creep upwards. “There is a great shortage of housing for the haredim in Jerusalem. In Kiryat Hayovel, it is possible to buy a three-room apartment for NIS 850,000 to NIS 900,000.”