Neighborhood Watch: Making waves

Bat Yam is no longer considered Tel Aviv’s poor relation, but prices there are still cheaper than in the metropolis

Bat Yam 521 (photo credit: Courtesy Bat Yam Municipality)
Bat Yam 521
(photo credit: Courtesy Bat Yam Municipality)
The dream of most Israelis is to have a home with a garden. Many others dream of an apartment with a view of the Mediterranean Sea. For the latter, the city of Bat Yam offers interesting properties with a sea view.
Bat Yam has a marked Mediterranean ambience and is much favored by overseas buyers, especially from France, who want a home with a sea view. Consequently, properties on the Bat Yam seashore are much in demand.
The popularity of Bat Yam is relatively new. Up to five years ago, not many Israelis were willing to brave the hazards of living in Bat Yam. It was a very poor relation of Tel Aviv, with a high crime rate, ramshackle infrastructure, squalid streets and run-down parks. Today, the streets are not only clean but also safe. The parks are well maintained, and the sea beckons. Many attribute the major improvement in the town to its mayor, Shlomi Lahiani, who ran for office eight years ago on an “urban renewal” ticket.
Now that Bat Yam has shed its negative image, demand for real estate – especially for properties opposite or near the seashore – has risen dramatically, and prices have risen with it. Compared to similar properties in Tel Aviv and Netanya, prices are inexpensive, but they are catching up quickly. In the past couple of years, prices in this area of Bat Yam have gone up by an average of 40 percent.
Ya’acov Atrakchi, general manager of Aura-Israel Investment, says that Lahiani has done a great job.
“Bat Yam has become a real-estate developer’s paradise. It is adjacent to Tel Aviv-Jaffa, plots of building land are available and at prices that are much lower than in Tel Aviv, and compared to such satellite cities as Holon and Petah Tikva, it has a very big advantage – it is on the seafront,” he says.
The part of Bat Yam that offers sea view apartments started to take off in 2004. Developers realized the city’s potential and started constructing apartment buildings that rose more than 20 stories high. At the time, it was an entrepreneurial risk, as not many locals with money were prepared to live in Bat Yam.
Yaron Galai, owner and manager of the Bat Yam branch of the Anglo-Saxon real-estate company, explains that this was the beginning of the process that transformed Bat Yam into the hot item it is today.
“These real-estate development projects were built to a high standard, but at the beginning they attracted local Bat Yam residents who wanted to upgrade their living conditions, and Jews from France who had family in Bat Yam and had the means and desire to acquire a foothold in Israel. Consequently, prices were much lower than in the surrounding cities,” he says.
Today, demand has increased considerably. In the past, very few middle-class Israelis able to afford a NIS 1.5 million home would have considered moving to Bat Yam. Now they are moving there in droves, and prices have risen accordingly. The average price per square meter is well over NIS 16,000 ($4,200), and this rises to NIS 20,000 ($5,200) on the seafront.
One of the new seaside projects is the 42-story Ashdar Tower. It is not on the seafront itself but on the next street parallel to the shore.
It is a joint venture between the Ashdar development and construction company and the Bat Yam Development company, which is owned by the municipality. The involvement of the municipality has created a unique marketing concept. The apartments will be auctioned as a means to lower prices. There will be a minimum price for each apartment, and prospective buyers can make their offers based on those prices. This system has not been tried anywhere else in the country and was adopted at the request of the municipality.
Gil Goldstein, regional sales manager of Ashdar, is very optimistic about the project. He says, “We expect brisk demand from the public. Despite the fact that we are on a street parallel to the seashore, all our 164 apartments, except for five, have an unobstructed view of the sea. This is because the apartment building was constructed between two buildings opposite the sea. Furthermore, we have one of the last unoccupied plots of land on the Bat Yam shoreline, and the appeal of the sea will promote sales.”
Ashdar Tower will be completed in early 2017. In the meantime, those who want a home with a sea view can purchase an apartment in the 24- story Sea Park of Bonei Hatichon or the 42-story Migdal Naveh. The prices of four-room apartments in these two towers are NIS 2.6m. and NIS 2.8m. respectively. These are hefty prices, but in nearby Tel Aviv a similar apartment with a sea view costs much more.