NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH: Prestigious, but very pricey

The ultra-wealthy are buying up closed residential compounds in Ramat Aviv.

Ramat Aviv Gimmel is one of the most expensive  (photo credit: Adi Benzaken)
Ramat Aviv Gimmel is one of the most expensive
(photo credit: Adi Benzaken)
Tel Aviv’s Ramat Aviv neighborhood is a vast area stretching from the Yarkon River in the south of the city to the Glilot junction in the north, and from the Tel Aviv-Haifa railroad track in the east to the Haifa-Tel Aviv highway in the west. In this large urban area sits the Tel Aviv University campus, as well as the Eretz Israel Museum. It was also the home of the Ramat Aviv Hotel, one of the country’s leading hotels in the 1950s and ’60s. Today it is a well-to-do neighborhood, the abode of the well-off middle classes.
Ramat Aviv was built in the early 1950s on the ruins of an Arab village by the name of Khan Yunis, one of the areas whose residents fled in the wake of the War of Independence. Constructed to house new immigrants from Eastern Europe, the housing in Ramat Aviv consisted of basic three-story, long apartment houses of two and three rooms. Despite its humble beginnings, the neighborhood started expanding northward, and the Construction and Housing Ministry started building semidetached units as well.
With the establishment of TAU, the neighborhood took off. Development companies built quality housing for the university staff, and the neighborhood acquired a genteel, high-end aura that made it popular with those who could afford the real-estate prices in the area. It also started the northward Tel Aviv trans-Yarkonia trend in real estate.
Today, the northern part of the neighborhood, called Ramat Aviv Gimmel, is one of the most expensive areas in the Tel Aviv municipal area.
A small segment of Ramat Aviv, which was the area the old Ramat Aviv Hotel occupied, had extensive grounds with beautiful gardens, but those are now a thing of the past. In its place is a development called Savyoney Ramat Aviv, one of the country’s many closed residential compounds.
During the past 20 years, the national economy has grown extensively, with the GDP up from a nominal $48 billion or $10,332 per capita in 1991 to $240b. or $29,760 per capita in 2012. With the rise in the GDP, the number of wealthy and very wealthy individuals has increased dramatically. These are people who travel abroad a lot and as such are often exposed to foreign influences in fashion trends, furnishings and real estate.
One of these influences is closed residential compounds. Developers acquire large plots of land and build luxurious and expensive apartments in closed areas. These have 24/7 surveillance concierge services and public areas such as gardens, spas, swimming pools, gyms and party rooms. The compound contains gardens, internal roads and trails that are maintained by the residents rather than by the municipal authorities, as all the land – including what would otherwise have been classified as public municipal areas, such as the gardens and roads – is privately owned.
Savyoney Ramat Aviv is a neighborhood in its own right, albeit a small one. The compound, built by the Africa Israel development company, comprises 10 residential buildings, two guarded, luxurious marble entrances for pedestrians, and a separate public area with a swimming pool, gym, squash court, and large public rooms that can serve as venues for receptions and parties.
The compound covers an area of 50,000 square meters, or approximately 12.5 acres. There are two 14-story residential towers at the north- and southeast corners of the compound, and two 21-story towers at the north- and southwest corners, though the northwest tower is still in the building stage.
Between the high-rise towers are six terraced six-story buildings – three on the southern side and three on the northern side. When planned, the whole area was supposed to have 400 apartments and some 1,300 residents. But since some of the residents combined two apartments, the current number of units in the project is 370. Prices are high: A 257-sq.m. penthouse with 174 sq.m. of terrace sold for NIS 18 million, while a 250-sq.m. mini-penthouse with 54 sq.m. of terrace sold for NIS 11m.
In addition, there is a monthly maintenance fee of NIS 11 per square meter. This covers the cost of surveillance, maintaining the swimming pool, sports areas and garden, and keeping the whole compound clean.
In Savyoney Ramat Aviv, as in other enclosed compounds, residents pay for spacious apartments of a high standard and a high level of service. In one tower, a two-room, 72-sq.m. apartment is available for NIS 2.5m., and a three room, 112-sq.m. apartment with a 16-sq.m. terrace on the sixth floor is going for NIS 3.7m. Four- and five-room apartments are being offered for NIS 4.5m. and NIS 6m. respectively.
One of the most striking selling points of Savyoney Ramat Aviv is the large garden. It lies in the middle of the compound, flanked on the north and south by the six terraced apartment buildings and on the east and west by the four towers. The impeccably maintained garden boasts lawns, flower beds, fountains, shaded benches and verdant paths – with entrance restricted to residents only, of course.