Rejuvenating the ‘baby’

If current plans for Petah Tikva’s city center are implemented, they will create a much more agreeable and inviting atmosphere.

Petah Tikva fountain 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Petah Tikva fountain 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Compared to such ancient cities as Jerusalem, Acre, Safed and Jaffa, Petah Tikva is a baby. But in relation to the modern Zionist settlements, it is very old – one of Israel’s oldest urban centers.
Founded 132 years ago, in 1878, Petah Tikva was one of the country’s first Jewish agricultural settlements.
But much water has flowed through the Yarkon River since then, and today Petah Tikva is a large, bustling city covering an area of 40,000 dunams, with a population of just under 200,000. The city is set to expand rapidly because it has the necessary land reserves, and is close to Tel Aviv.
At a time when real-estate prices in Tel Aviv and the established satellite towns of Ramat Gan and Givatayim are reaching record highs, Petah Tikva prices are considered moderate.
Eitan Zamir, proprietor and manager of the Anglo Saxon real-estate agency in Petah Tikva told Metro: “A 120-square-meter apartment in the middle-class areas of Petah Tikva costs from NIS 1.1 million to NIS 1.2m., compared to NIS 2m. and more in Tel Aviv and Givatayim.”
In consequence, the city, situated barely 12 kilometers from Tel Aviv, is experiencing a real-estate boom.
FROM A real-estate perspective, Petah Tikva is not a homogeneous urban entity. One of the more colorful – if not high-end – areas is the one called in municipality jargon “Center,” with the municipal market in the middle of it; hardly the hallmark of a quality neighborhood.
The area is set to be rejuvenated and upgraded. And it has, indeed, been rejuvenated, but it is still a long way from being updated.
According to information supplied by the municipality, the area to be rejuvenated is that encompassed by Rehov Stampfer to the east, Montefiore to the west, Baron Hirsch to the north, and Hovevei Zion to the south. This area is run down and needs urgent rehabilitation.
Luckily, and despite the fact that the city was founded 130 years ago – “ancient,” as urban centers go – it boasts no historic buildings, and so there is nothing to protect and development work can proceed unimpeded.
When and if the current plans are completed, they will create a much more agreeable and inviting atmosphere for both commerce and residence, with an upward effect on real-estate prices.
In the area under development itself, there is no land available for building purposes, as it is already completely built up; but adjacent to it, near Rehov Montefiore, 30 dunams – 30,000 square meters – of private land have been made available for building.
The relevant authorities have already authorized the construction of over 600 residential units in five tower blocks.
As of now, only one such development company has taken up the challenge: the Daniel Yitzhaki Group, which recently completed the City Tower, with 17 floors and ample parking space. It is the only completely new residential building to go up in the center of Petah Tikva in 10 or 15 years.
Today, the area in question is inhabited by 17,000 to 20,000 residents. The planned new blocks – if they are ever built – will add about 2,500 more residents of a much higher socioeconomic level, which may create a social upward trend and increase real-estate prices.
Right now, these are relatively low.
Most of the houses in the area were built 35 and 50 years ago, and the price of an average three-room, 75- to 80-square-meter apartment is around NIS 650,000.
A four-room, 90- to 100-sq.-m. apartment sells for NIS 800,000, on average.
The area has a sprinkling of apartment buildings constructed in the Nineties. Their facades are more modern-looking and better maintained, and the average four-room, 120-sq.-m. apartment goes for NIS 900,000.
Zamir believes that prices in the area will in all probability remain stable.
“This particular area of Petah Tikva is not highly regarded, and in consequence prices are among the lowest in town, and demand is not substantial,” he says.
“The municipality has big plans to build a self-contained neighborhood of over 600 high-end apartments in five high-rise buildings – but with the sole exception of the City Tower, developers have not shown any particular interest.
“In my opinion, prices will rise only if these plans are implemented; otherwise I do not see any change in prices in the foreseeable future.”