The height of fashion

Due to its proximity to a university and a hospital, houses in Beersheba’s Ramot are in high demand

Beersheva Homes521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Beersheva Homes521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Translated literally, Beersheba means “seven wells,” a tribute to the city’s seven ancient sites.
Today, the real-estate scene there is shifting, due to the government’s effort to persuade home buyers to distance themselves from the crowded and expensive coastal area.
Additionally the Defense Ministry is relocating all of the IDF’s training bases to the area, and demand for real estate among military families is expected to increase substantially.
Legend links the patriarch Abraham to Beersheba. He was said to have dug a well, planted a tamarisk tree and tended his flock of sheep or goats. If this was indeed the case, Beersheba must have been much greener than it is today, because the area around the city receives little rain. No historical evidence of this Abrahamic link exists; the archeological site of Tel Sheva is from a much later period.
Beersheba as a city was not mentioned in the Scriptures, nor was it recorded in the later Byzantine, Muslim or Turkish periods. At the beginning of the 19th century, Europeans who visited the area described the place as a barren stretch of land with a well and a handful of Beduin living nearby.
Its urban status began to take hold toward the end of the 19th century.
The Ottomans had ruled Palestine since the 16th century, and by the second half of the 19th century, the empire had built a police station in Beersheba in an effort to combat brigandage and control the local Beduin.
Immediately afterward, they built roads and government buildings with staff offices and housing. These buildings were sturdily constructed using local materials, and most of them are still standing today, over 100 years later.
A team of Swiss and German architects planned the town, and the grid street pattern is still in evidence in Beersheba’s Old City.
In the wider international and historical context, the city is famous for the cavalry battle that bears its name, and its role in the Sinai-Palestine Campaign.
On October 31, 1917, three months after taking Rafah, troops under Gen.
Edmund Allenby breached the Turkish defense line between Gaza and Beersheba. Eight hundred soldiers of the Australian 4th and 12th Regiments of the 4th Light Horse Brigade under Brig.-Gen. William Grant made a bayonet cavalry charge and overran the Turkish trenches – the last cavalry charge in British military history.
On the edge of Beersheba’s Old City is the Cemetery of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which houses the graves of the Australian and British soldiers who died in that campaign and its aftermath. The town also has a memorial park dedicated to the 4th Light Horse Brigade.
Beersheba as we know it today had its beginnings in 1948. The IDF captured it that year, and the town’s approximately 4,000 inhabitants were deported to Egypt.
Beersheba has grown considerably since then. A large portion of the population consists of immigrants from Arab countries, mainly Morocco, who came to Israel during the 1950s and ’60s. During the 1990s, immigrants from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia boosted the population.
With the influx of Russian immigrants, chess became a major sport in Beersheba. The city is now the national chess center, home to more chess grandmasters than any other city in the world.
While Beersheba has long been a city populated by newcomers and their descendants, the demographics started to change in 1969, when Ben-Gurion University of the Negev was established.
It began to attract professionals and middle-class families, and housing standards changed accordingly.
Today the city has approximately 200,000 residents and is divided into 17 neighborhoods. The Ramot neighborhood in the extreme northeast corner of town has some 15,000 inhabitants.
Ramot is one of the largest neighborhoods, and one of the most in demand. Its population is of a relatively high socioeconomic level because of its location, within walking distance of both BGU and Soroka University Medical Center, where many residents work.
In the vicinity, the municipality is completing a 40-hectare (100-acre) ultra-modern hi-tech industrial park that will have 180,000 square meters of offices. It is situated near the Beersheba North railway station. This gives the neighborhood an added advantage, as the fast train route to Tel Aviv takes only 55 minutes – making Ramot a convenient residence for those whose travel a lot.
At present, Ramot has nine development projects in the works. Eitan Afod, vice president at Arazim, one of the development companies involved, is enthusiastic about the area.
“We are very upbeat about Ramot,” he tells Metro. “It is excellently located and has become one of the most popular neighborhoods in Beersheba.
Because of its proximity to the university and the Soroka Medical Center, as well as to the new hi-tech industrial park, it attracts families of a relatively high income bracket. They want quality housing, and we are happy to oblige.”
Arazim’s Royal Concept project involves 77 large residential units – measuring 156 square meters to 174 sq.m. – in three-story buildings, of which approximately half are garden apartments and half are rooftop units.
Arazim is also constructing the My Concept project, 192 units of four to five rooms, including penthouses and garden apartments, in four high-rise buildings.
Prices in Ramot are higher than in other areas of Beersheba.
Itzik Duev of the Anglo-Saxon realty brokerage branch in Beersheba notes that “Ramot is a very large neighborhood, and prices vary according to location. Ramot A is the veteran part, an area of single-family and semidetached residences built 25 to 30 years ago. The newer areas are referred to as Ramot B, an area of storied buildings, while there are two new areas referred to as C and D that are relatively near the university and are earmarked for semi-detached residences.”
He points out that “because the city is within range of the Gaza rockets, relatively newer homes with shelters are more in demand.”
According to Duev, “there is also much investor demand because there is high demand for rentals in the area, from students and the floating medical staff at the medical center and the floating academic staff at the university.”
A three-room apartment, he continues, costs from NIS 750,000 to NIS 850,000, while the cost of a four-room apartment ranges from NIS 850,000 to 920,000. A five-room apartment costs from NIS 1 million to NIS 1.05m. New apartments are in the same price range because buyers have to wait two years to move in.