Neighborhood watch: Settling down

Prices in Kiryat Arba are remaining steady due to a decrease in construction permits in the West Bank, but they are still lower than in Jerusalem.

Kiryat Arba 521 (photo credit: Courtesy/Kiryat Arba local council)
Kiryat Arba 521
(photo credit: Courtesy/Kiryat Arba local council)
In 1968, a group of religious Jews, led by Moshe Levinger, a rabbi and the father of the current mayor of Kiryat Arba, came to Hebron, rented a hotel for what was supposed to be a weekend and simply refused to leave. The government was faced with a fait accompli and agreed to found an urban settlement in the eastern outskirts of Hebron.
In 1970 building began on an abandoned military base and by 1971 the first residents had moved into the new town, called Kiryat Arba.
Today the town has approximately 8,000 residents and is completely self-sufficient. It is in the Hebron Hills and has an independent local council.
It has pre-nursery to post-secondary educational institutions, a medical center, a shopping center, a post office, a cultural center with its own theater and auditorium, and a country club is currently being built.
Kiryat Arba is located in the West Bank, an area under military jurisdiction, and this has a bearing on the real-estate scene. The government is under strong pressure from overseas to halt building in the West Bank. In consequence the military administration is not granting building permits, resulting in a housing shortage due to relatively strong demand.
Kiryat Arba Mayor Malachi Levinger told In Jerusalem, “It is true that the supply of housing is problematic. There are approximately 40 units in the construction process, which is far below our needs. You must realize that demand for real estate in Kiryat Arba is substantial. We are a mere 25- minute drive from Jerusalem, and when the new road is completed the journey will be cut to to 15 to 18 minutes.”
In many ways Kiryat Arba is a dormitory town, a satellite of Jerusalem, at least where employment is concerned. In consequence demand is generated by the price differential with Jerusalem. Alex Franck, a real-estate agent in Kiryat Arba, told In Jerusalem that “prices in Kiryat Arba are much cheaper than in Jerusalem. They are cheaper even when one has to take into consideration the 25-minute drive to Jerusalem, because at peak hours it takes longer to get from one end of Jerusalem to the other.”
In Kiryat Arba a modern, four-room apartment in a middle-class neighborhood can be had for from NIS 400,000 to NIS 520,000, and a three-room apartment from NIS 360,000 to NIS 450,000 – much, much cheaper than comparable accommodation in the capital.
Current demand for real estate is weaker than in 2010 because of the state of the real-estate industry in Israel. But there is demand and prices are holding steady, primarily because of shortage of supply.
According to rough estimates, 75 percent of the current potential demand is made up of locals who want to improve their living standards by upgrading their homes, while the remaining 25% are new buyers.
The potential for expanding the town is limited because of land restrictions. According to Yoni Cohen, general manager of the Kiryat Arba development company, “If we wish to maintain the current density of population we have land to build an additional 1,000 units, which adds up to another 4,000 to 5,000 residents.”
•A four-room, 93-sq.m. apartment on the second floor sold for NIS 430,000.
• A three-room, 76-sq.m. ground-floor renovated apartment sold for NIS 440,000.
• A seven-room, 200-sq.m semi-detached and renovated three-level residence sold for NIS 1,080,000.
• A three-room, 76-sq.m. ground floor apartment sold for NIS 450,000.
• A four-room, 105-sq.m. semi-detached, twolevel residence sold for NIS 700,000.
• A three-room, 71-sq.m. apartment on the fourth floor without an elevator sold for NIS 375,000.