Many of our readers may not have heard of Yehud; more of them may have heard of Savyon, which is one of the more POSH residential areas in Israel. Yehud is adjacent to Savyon, and it is now called Yehud-Monoson. It has a new name because Yehud and Neveh Monoson have become one municipality. Yehud was for many years Savyon's poor cousin. Its residents were mostly new immigrants with low incomes; it was not considered an attractive place to live and it did not attract real estate investments. But things have changed. Over the past 10 years, and especially the last five, it has been experiencing big changes. Its original inhabitants have become "institutionalized," and the proximity of the town to Tel Aviv has highlighted the advantages of the city. Demand for real estate is now brisk. Yehud-Monoson has about 30,000 residents - 27,000 in Yehud and 3,000 in Neveh Monoson. It is a 20-minute drive to Tel Aviv; 14 minutes with the planned railway. The city started taking off some 12 years ago. That's when the Africa Israel Real Estate company started constructing a large residential complex called Kiryat Savyonim, which has 1,500 residential units and more than 6,000 residents. It had its own schools and shopping center, and was a city apart. The new quarter was built to a very high standard and attracted many yuppies. The apartments were large and airy, relatively inexpensive and suddenly nearly a quarter of the population belonged to a different social strata. Kiryat Savyonim, which was very much within the municipal boundaries of Yehud, became fashionable. Five years ago Mayor Yossi Ben-David, who was new in office, started rejuvenating the city. "I knew the city was run-down, so I decided to invest in upgrading the superstructure, improving streets, improving lighting, better garbage removal and better schools," he told The Jerusalem Post. "I believed then, and I do now, that an improved infrastructure and an improved educational system would act as a stimulus to pull up the city as a whole, and I was right. "Demand for real estate increased as more people were willing to live in Yehud and prices started to rise. Today I can say that we have a very high level of demand. According to a survey by the Real Estate Appraisers Association, real estate prices in Yehud-Monoson are expected to rise by from 8 percent to 11%, while prices in Tel Aviv are expected to fall by from 4% to 6%." But despite the increased demand there is not much development activity because there is very little available land. The only building project that is under way is the "High Hanging Gardens," which is been built by the Aura-Israel Investment Company. Ya'acov Atrakhi, the company's general manager, told the Post, "We came to the conclusion that Yehud-Monoson had a lot of appeal, so we bought a plot of four dunams near Kiryat Savyonim and are constructing a residential complex consisting of four 14-storey residential tower blocks with 240 apartments in all. They are called High Hanging Gardens because the quality of design and construction are very high, and because each apartment has a large terrace especially designed and constructed so that the floor of the terrace can be covered with a thick layer of earth to allow the growth of a small lawn and trees. Each apartment has two underground parking spaces." The municipality plans to tear down some of the old blocks of flats built in the 1950s to house the incoming immigrants and build modern apartments and commercial centers. There are two such projects; one of them, called Lugano, will probably be started soon. Some practically derelict blocks of flats in the center of town will be torn down to make room for modern apartment buildings with underground parking and shops and offices. David Shauli, manager of Shauli Properties in Yehud, demand for real estate in Yehud-Monoson is brisk, especially so for plots of land. A 1,000-square-meter plot costs approximately $800,000, he said. Four-room apartments in Kiryat Savyonim cost from NIS 1.1 million to NIS 1.3m, which at a reasonable rate of exchange of, say, four shekels to the US dollar, would add up to from $275,000 to $325,000. In Yehud proper, prices for such apartments would cost from NIS 600,000 ($150,000) to NIS 900,000 ($225,000), Shauli said.