Neighborhood Watch: Better connected

The light rail has made Pisgat Ze’ev more accessible.

Pisgat Zeev 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Pisgat Zeev 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Pisgat Ze’ev, in the northeast corner of Jerusalem, is the capital’s largest neighborhood.
With over 50,000 residents, it could be considered a town in itself, but its residents seem happy to be part of Jerusalem.
Today the neighborhood is very much in demand. Though it is quite a distance from the center of the city, the light rail has made it much more accessible. In addition, it is near one of the roads leading from the capital to the Center of the country, Route 443, which makes it practical and easy for those who work in Tel Aviv or the industrial park at Ben-Gurion Airport to reach their places of employment.
Historically the area on which Pisgat Ze’ev sits was part of Jerusalem’s hinterland in the era of both the First and Second Temples. Archeological evidence shows that in the biblical period, the area supplied Jerusalem with agricultural products. It encompassed a string of small agricultural villages along the ancient road that connected Jerusalem to Nablus, and from there to the Galilee.
The archeological finds further show that the area had a relatively large number of wine and oil presses, and its products were in all probability used in the Temple. In addition to this, the excavations have revealed that the ancients used an ingenious system of water catchments to store water and irrigate the fields in the dry, hot summer months.
Named for Revisionist Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky, Pisgat Ze’ev has a close connection with the Zionist ethos. In the mid-1930s, a group of Jews from Poland purchased land near the Arab village of Hizme to establish a Jewish farming cooperative, which they planned to call Havatzelet Binyamin.
However, nothing came of it, since most of the intended population perished in the Holocaust.
After 1967, the land was expropriated along with other land to build Pisgat Ze’ev.
The neighborhood’s connection with Jerusalem now is different from what it was in biblical times.
The wide and fruitful agricultural fields have given way to residential buildings; Pisgat Ze’ev can be described as a dormitory suburb of Jerusalem.
The area also overlooks Tel el-Ful – the ancient seat of government for the tribe of Judah, and the site of King Saul’s palace. It is also the site of another royal residence: the unfinished palace that King Hussein of Jordan built for himself in Jerusalem when the city was the second capital of the Hashemite Kingdom.
MODERN PISGAT Ze’ev was built with one aim: to increase the capital’s Jewish population by creating a ring of neighborhoods surrounding the city.
After the Six Day War, Israel annexed the area now known as east Jerusalem, formerly a part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Afterward, the government planned the ring of five neighborhoods to surround what were then Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries to the east, west, north and south.
Pisgat Ze’ev is the youngest of these neighborhoods, its construction having begun in 1982 and continuing to this day. Since it was built on high ground – 772 meters above sea level – some of its dwellings have panoramic views of the surrounding areas.
The neighborhood is also one of the most ecologically conscious in Jerusalem. With help from the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, the residents have transformed a two-hectare (five-acre) site used as an illegal dumping ground into a wildflower sanctuary with over 55 species of trees and plants. In addition, the neighborhood is home to some innovative water conservation projects: Its local mikve (ritual bath) will dispense with changing the water every day, and rainwater collection tanks were installed at the Pisgat Ze’ev (West) school – the latter a part of a project organized by the Green Network, which specializes in educational programming on ecology and the environment.
REAL-ESTATE agent Emma Bonin works at the Anglo-Saxon Jerusalem concessionary. Speaking to In Jerusalem, she describes the real estate scene in Pisgat Ze’ev as satisfactory.
“Pisgat Ze’ev is less expensive than other parts of Jerusalem, but prices are rising and consequently real estate in Pisgat Ze’ev is considered a good investment. Pisgat Ze’ev is also attractive for investors due to its proximity to the Hebrew University campus at Mount Scopus, since there is a constant demand for rentals from the student population,” she says.
“One of the reasons for the relatively low prices is the traffic jams in the mornings and evenings, a perennial cause of complaint among the inhabitants.
Currently, because of the light rail, transportation problems have lessened, and the time it takes to get from Pisgat Ze’ev to the center of Jerusalem has shortened considerably.
Consequently the price differential between Pisgat Ze’ev and the average price of other Jerusalem real estate has decreased to around 16 percent, compared to over 20% two years ago.”
According to Bonin, the average price for a tworoom apartment in the neighborhood is NIS 750,000. A three-room apartment in the older areas of Pisgat Ze’ev costs NIS 950,000, and a similar apartment in the newer areas costs NIS 1.05 million.
An average four-room apartment in the older areas costs NIS 975,000, while a similar apartment in the newer areas is NIS 1.25m.
Apartments in the newer areas have terraces, elevators and private parking.
Pisgat Ze’ev has three- and four-room garden apartments that cost from NIS 1m. to NIS 1.4m., depending on the size of the apartment and the size of the garden.
A rooftop apartment can cost from NIS 1.1m. to NIS 1.6m., depending on size and location. Singlefamily homes can cost up to NIS 3m., while an average semi-detached house costs NIS 2.1m.