From old colony to new community

Built on the past, the American Colony project in Tel Aviv shows great promise for the future.

American Colony in Tel Aviv 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
American Colony in Tel Aviv 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
InIn one of the more secluded corners of Tel Aviv-Jaffa is an area called The American Colony. It is a very small area, less than eight acres (30,000 square meters), but every square millimeter is saturated with the relatively recent history of the Holy Land. It is now being developed as part of an area that is earmarked as a high-end residential sector. The area is located in the urban no man’s land north of Jaffa and south of Tel Aviv. It is bounded by Neveh Tzedek in the north, by Jerusalem Blvd. in the south, the Mediterranean Sea in the west and the American Village in the east.
The area has many historic buildings, most of which will be restored. Near the western end of the promontory is the Old Jaffa train station. It and the historic train station in Jerusalem are the oldest in the country, going back nearly 145 years. The train station has been restored and is the hub of a commercial and entertainment center.
The whole area is planned as a combination of Neveh Tzedek and Old Jaffa. Old Jaffa because of its many restaurants, cafes, art galleries, clubs, etc., and Neveh Tzedek because of its trendy homes.
The American Village
The American Village project is also part of the upgrading and development of the area. The land was purchased by the American Village Corporation, a daughter company 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. One will function as a luxury hotel; the other will have approximately 220 luxury apartments.
But this is more in the future. At present, the American Village project in the American Colony compound is in the process of construction. The compound includes many historic buildings such as the old Park Hotel building, now a hostel, where 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 and stone paved streets, etc.
Dror Koren, CEO of Darinel Business, told Real Estate, “The American Village will comprise three two-story buildings with attics built around a central plaza in a style that will blend in with the historic buildings. There will be 23 residential units, which will be served by a spa area for the exclusive use of the residents. It will include a swimming pool, gym, sauna etc. The whole project will be completed in the first quarter of 2011. No cost is being spared to recreate the architectural ambience of the old American Colony while constructing apartments that incorporate the latest in gracious, comfortable living.”
When completed, the whole area will have 2,500 to 3,000 residential units. But this will take a long time to bring about.
The area to the west of the American Colony compound around the area of Eilat Street 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 stately houses 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 will be both expensive and time consuming.
The planned residential tower blocks in the vicinity of the old train station are still in the planning stage. Construction work is planned to commence in 2012 and will be completed in 2014.