Neighborhood Watch: Young again

Givatayim is having to upgrade its education system as more families with children move in.

Givatayim (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Givatayim is one of several satellite towns surrounding Tel Aviv, radiating toward the metropolitan center with regard to employment and commercial services. Others are Bat Yam, Holon and Ramat Gan. But unlike most other cities in Israel, Givatayim is largely middle-class.
That is one of the reasons the average price of real estate in Givatayim is the highest in the country. Prices in parts of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are higher, like they are in certain urban entities such as Savyon, Kfar Shmaryahu or Omer, but as a city, Givatayim is No. 1.
The main reason is that the city is much in demand as a residential address, and demand outstrips supply because the reserves of available building land and the number of new dwellings coming onto the market are limited.
Considering its background, it is ironic that Givatayim is probably the most bourgeois city in Israel.
It started life in 1922 with the Borochov neighborhood – an area designated as a place of residence for the Jewish proletariat of the time. More dwellings were built in 1925, around Sheinkin Street. Then, in 1931, one of the hills of Givatayim had a neighborhood designated for railway workers, and dwellings gradually increased throughout the area that now makes up the city.
Givatayim was once considered a stronghold of Mapai, the forerunner of the Labor Party, which was in power from the early 1930s to the late 1970s. Labor has since lost power there, as it has in most parts of the country.
The city’s Mayor Ran Kunik, who campaigned on a ticket of improving municipal services, says that the goal of his administration is constantly to upgrade infrastructure such as roads and the sewage system. The municipality also encourages cultural activities and is making efforts to prevent the construction of high-rise apartment blocks.
“The aim of my administration is to adapt the services of the municipality to the changing needs of the city and its inhabitants in all aspects of life – residential, cultural, educational,” he says.
And that is indeed a challenge. Givatayim has gone through two different cycles. Up to four or five years ago, the population was mostly aging, with some 25 percent of the population over retirement age. But as they got older, these people chose to move to communal sheltered residences, and their apartments were then rented or sold to singles or young couples. Consequently the municipal services have had to adapt.
Kunik says that one of the problems is education. “Up to a few years ago, the school-age population was declining because the elderly had few children of school age, and the schools and kindergartens were far from full. Now the opposite is happening. The influx of younger people with children has created a shortage of schools and kindergartens.”
The administration is taking steps to remedy this problem and plans to upgrade the education network in the city.
“We are increasing the capacity of existing educational institutions by adding new classrooms, but we are also adopting a new concept. We want the city to have a comprehensive education network that will give parents a wide range of options up to the high school level. This will allow parents the kind of education they prefer for their children, such as technical, classical and alternative,” he says.
Another problem the municipality is facing is that of parking. Givatayim was planned as a garden suburb of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, with many red-tile-roofed single-family homes with gardens. The transportation needs were simple, and the streets were relatively narrow. Today, while Givatayim has not lost its suburban aura, it is a city of families who have two or three cars each, and the parking facilities are inadequate. The municipality plans to build underground parking lots in public buildings or have developers of new housing build underground parking facilities not only for residents of the buildings, but for the public as well.
Givatayim is a popular place for more well-off families to live because, among other things, it has a genteel environment. The crime rate is minimal, and there are no slums. It is adjacent to Tel Aviv, it has good municipal services and it is relatively safe to live in. Givatayim itself has few job opportunities, but those who live there have all the job opportunities they could wish for in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. The same holds true for entertainment and shopping.
All of this has contributed to the city’s being one of the most expensive in the country. During the past five years, some categories – mainly two-room apartments – have more than doubled in price, while other categories have not lagged behind.
The hefty price rises for small apartments is understandable; there are not many of them around, and for singles they are just right.
Meanwhile, a spacious two-room 65- to 70-square-meter apartment with a large terrace sells for over NIS 1.5 million.
Demand for smaller three- and four-room apartments is also high. An average three-room apartment with parking can reach NIS 1.8m. or NIS 1.9m., while a similar four-room apartment sells for over NIS 2.2m. An apartment with private parking will fetch over 10 percent more than a similar apartment without parking.
Because demand in Givatayim is strong, prices are expected to rise, but not too much, because the prices are already considered beyond the reach of many. Nevertheless, the strong demand does not include expensive real estate over NIS 3.5m or so. Demand for these categories is weakening, and prices for expensive real estate in Givatayim are softening.