From swamp to swamped

Hadera’s mayor is determined to develop his city’s residential and tourist potential.

Hadera neighborhood plans (photo credit: Courtesy)
Hadera neighborhood plans
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Hadera is located midway between Haifa and Tel Aviv. Like many cities in Israel, such as Binyamina, Zichron Ya’acov, Rishon Lezion and Petah Tikva, it had humble beginnings, as it developed from an agricultural settlement established in the late 19th century.
For much of its over 100-year history, Hadera was something of a backwater, overshadowed by its neighbors – Binyamina and Zichron Ya’acov to the north and Netanya to the south. Zichron Ya’acov and Binyamina became the abode of the affluent, and Netanya was a more glamorous city with its beaches and seafront.
Hadera, in contrast, never lost its agricultural antecedents, and it is still erroneously perceived as a market town. Perhaps this perception is linked to its name, which is derived from the Arabic khadra, which means “green.” In the late 19th century, what is now Hadera was swamp land, a sea of green reeds.
Before it was drained by a network of drainage channels and the planting of a forest of eucalyptus trees, it was a very unhealthy place. Of the 550 or so inhabitants who lived there before the swamps were drained, 210 died of malaria.
Hadera did not seem to catch on because it did not realize its potential. The city encompasses an area of 53 square kilometers, slightly larger than Tel Aviv, which spans 52
Hadera stretches from the fertile agricultural fields to the east, to the Mediterranean Sea to the west. One of the reasons for its sleepy, unsophisticated character is that the city never developed its seven kilometers of coast. Furthermore, the city is bisected by the old Haifa-Tel Aviv Highway and the newer coastal Haifa-Tel Aviv Highway and by the coastal railway line.
The city developed east of the Haifa-Tel Aviv Highway. That is where the majority of housing was built, as well as most of its businesses. The area west of the highway was considered beyond the pale.
Instead of developing the seashore like neighboring Netanya, Hadera neglected it. Instead of taking advantage of its excellent transportation links, they remained on the outskirts of the city.
Now all that is changing, and the municipality is promoting development work in the west of the city and developing its shoreline.
The western part of Hadera – west of the Haifa-Tel Aviv Highway, and especially the part that lies west of the railway – has been overlooked by the municipality as a residential area, but it has some interesting landmarks. These include the eucalyptus forest just east of the railway; the Hadera Paper Mill (the largest paper mill in the Middle East); the Orot Rabin power station (the largest in the country); and the world’s largest desalination plant, which operates on the reverse-osmosis principle, producing 127 million cubic meters of fresh water annually. And Nahal Hadera Park is a beauty spot that was once one of the most polluted rivers in the country.
Now the western part of Hadera is set to become the location of high-end residential areas with sea views, as well as the site of a string of luxury seaside hotels like those in Tel Aviv and Herzliya. The potential yuppie resident will have an employment center nearby because the municipality is building an ultramodern hi-tech industrial park.
Hadera Mayor Haim Avitan, who is the driving force behind developing the western half of Hadera, says, “The new Hadera – both east and west – will be a modern bustling town that will double its present population of over 80,000 after the implementation of our master plan. It will be a town with an open waterfront and a large number of green lungs – the eucalyptus forest, Sharon Park and Nahal Hadera Park, as well as public parks in the town itself. We are now constructing a waterfront esplanade that will be the equal of similar promenades on the French and Italian Rivieras. During the next decade, we intend to build a number of luxury hotels with 2,300 rooms in all, as well as the necessary tourist attractions such as restaurants, coffee shops, etc. We intend to construct jogging and bicycle paths – in short, everything that a modern 21st-century seaside tourist town should have,” he says.
“The esplanade will be reserved for hotels, but the area will have a large number of high-end residential tower blocks just behind the hotels. Some few hundred apartments are in the process of construction.
During the next 10 years, in addition to the luxury hotels that are to be built, 10,000 apartments will also be built so that the area of western Hadera adjacent to the sea will have a population of some 40,000,” concludes the mayor.
The municipality is placing great emphasis on the western part of town, but these plans are having a bearing on Hadera as a whole. The municipality is developing an area at the western edge of the city, called Park Neighborhood. It is meant to be a less expensive residential alternative to neighboring Binyamina and Zichron Ya’acov, the abode of many yuppie families.
When completed, the neighborhood will have 7,500 residential units, or 30,000 residents. It will have semidetached dwellings, as well as 18-story residential tower blocks and apartment buildings of seven stories. As yet, no prices are quoted for the apartments.
The prices for the Park residences may give one an idea of the prices expected for the apartments in the western part of town. These can be expected to be from 5 percent to 10% more expensive. In Park, an average four-room apartment ranges from NIS 1.2 million to NIS 1.3m. The western counterpart is expected to cost between NIS 1.3m. and NIS 1.45m.