Once a poor relative of Tel Aviv, Bat Yam and its coastline are now very much in demand.
By JOHN BENZAQUEN
Most Israelis dream of a house with a garden. But some long for an apartment with a view of the azure Mediterranean. For these, Bat Yam has some interesting properties on offer.Bat Yam has a very marked Mediterranean ambience and is much favored by overseas buyers, especially from France, who want a home with a sea view. In consequence, properties along the Bat Yam seashore – or, to use its Hebrew name, the Tayelet – are now much in demand.The current popularity of Bat Yam is relatively new.Up to five years ago, not many Israelis were willing to brave the hazards of living in this very poor relation of Tel Aviv, with its high crime rate, run-down infrastructure, filthy streets and dilapidated public parks.Today, Bat Yam’s streets are clean and safe. Its parks are well maintained, and the sea beckons. Many attribute the change in the city’s fortunes to the incumbent mayor, Shlomi Lahiani, who ran for office eight years ago on an “urban renewal” ticket.With its negative image shed, demand for real estate in Bat Yam – and especially for properties opposite or in the vicinity of the seashore – has risen dramatically, and so have prices. Compared to similar properties in Tel Aviv and Netanya, they are low, but catching up quickly: In the past couple of years, they have gone up by an average of 40 percent.Lahiani has done a great job, Ya’acov Atrakchi, general manager of Aura-Israel Investment, told Metro.“Bat Yam has become a real estate developers’ paradise.It is adjacent to Tel Aviv-Jaffa, plots of land for building are available at prices much lower than in Tel Aviv, and compared to satellite metropolitan cities like Holon and Petah Tikva, it has a very big advantage, being on the seafront.”The area of Bat Yam offering seaview apartments started to take off in 2004, when developers realized the city’s potential and started building residential tower blocks of over 20 stories. It was an entrepreneurial risk, as not many locals with money were prepared to actually live in the city.This real-estate development, explained Orly Mirovich, owner-manager of the Bat Yam branch of Anglo-Saxon, was the beginning of the process that has transformed Bat Yam into the real estate prize it is today.“These projects were built to a high standard, but in the beginning they attracted local Bat Yam residents who wanted to upgrade their living conditions and French Jews of North African origin, who had family in Bat Yam and the will and means to acquire a foothold in Israel. In consequence, prices were much lower than in the surrounding cities.”Since then, demand has broadened considerably.In the past, very few middle-class Israelis able to afford a NIS 500,000 home would have considered moving to Bat Yam. Today they are moving there in droves, and prices have risen accordingly.The average price of a square meter is well over NIS 16,000, rising to NIS 20,000 on the seafront. These prices are for properties sold by the proprietors. New housing is more expensive.In new projects such as the Bonei Hatichon Sea Park project and Ashdar’s “ONE” project, prices can rise to an average of NIS 30,000.Haim Cackon, VP Marketing of the Bonei Hatichon Development company, told Metro: “The Sea Park project consists of three 24-story towers, 92 apartments in all. There are four- and fiveroomed apartments, garden apartments and penthouses.”The Sea Park and ONE projects are the newest luxury developments along the Bat Yam seashore. Prices for an apartment can reach NIS 3.5 million, and NIS 8m. for a penthouse.
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