Tel Aviv's American Colony

Neighborhood Watch: A pocket of land, squeezed between Jaffa and South of the city and saturated with history, is being earmarked as high-end residential area.

American Colony home 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
American Colony home 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Very few people are aware that in one of the more secluded corners of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa metropolis is an area which goes by the name “The American Colony.”
It is a very small area, less than 30,000 square meters, but every square millimeter is saturated with the recent history of the Holy Land.
Today it is being developed as part of a neighborhood earmarked as a high-end residential area for those with deep pockets.
Located in that urban “no-man’s-land” north of Jaffa and south of Tel Aviv, the neighborhood is bounded by Neveh Tzedek in the north, Sderot Yerushalayim in the south, the Mediterranean in the west, and the American Village project in the east.
The area has many historic buildings, most if not all of which will be restored. Near the western end of the promontory is the old Jaffa train station.
Together with Jerusalem’s historic train station, it is the oldest in the country, going back nearly 120 years. It has been restored and is now the center of a commercial and entertainment center.
The whole area is being planned as something in between Neveh Tzedek and Old Jaffa. Old Jaffa because of the many entertainment establishments, restaurants, cafes, art galleries and clubs, and Neveh Tzedek because of the trendy homes.
The American Village development project is also part of the upgrading and development of the area. The land was bought by the American Village Corp., a subsidiary of the Darinel Business Corporation. The company also bought land in the vicinity of the old train station and plans to build two 30-story tower blocks there. One will function as a luxury hotel; the other will have approximately 220 luxury apartments.
But this last is for the future. Today, it is the American Village project in the American Colony compound that is in the process of construction.
The compound includes many historic buildings such as the old Park Hotel building, now a hostel, in which Kaiser Wilhelm and the Empress Augusta Victoria of Germany stayed during their visit to Jaffa in 1898. The development of the area includes period-type plazas, stone-paved streets, and so on.
DROR KOREN, CEO of Darinel Business, told Metro: “The development will comprise three two-story buildings with attics built around a central plaza in a style which will blend with the old historic buildings.
There will be 23 residential units served by a communal spa area for the exclusive use of the residents, including a swimming pool, gym and sauna. The whole project will be completed in the first quarter of 2011.
“No cost has been spared in recreating the old architectural ambience of the old American Colony, while constructing apartments which incorporate the latest in gracious and comfortable living.”
When completed, the whole area will have 2,500 to 3,000 residential units. But this will take a long time.
The area to the west of the American Colony compound, around Rehov Eilat, is very dilapidated.
Before Israel’s War of Independence this was one of the more expensive residential areas of Jaffa. But with the outcome of the war, all its Arab inhabitants had to leave and the empty stately homes were used to house new immigrants. The fine apartments decayed and today have become something of a slum.
Before the area is upgraded, the present inhabitants must be eased out, which is both expensive and time-consuming. In my opinion, many of the apartment buildings should not be torn down to make room for new residential tower blocks, but restored to their former glory. I, for one, would be perfectly willing to live in one of the restored apartments.
The residential tower blocks in the vicinity of the old train station are still in the planning stage, with construction work scheduled to commence