The gentrification of old Tel Aviv

House on Karl Netter St.

Wealthy Jews from around the world are buying Tel Aviv buildings marked for preservation and turning them into private residences with pools.

Up until recently, we were used to wealthy people isolating themselves in Savion, Herzliya Pituah, or high-rises. Now, however, it is clear that the conversion of old apartment buildings into private urban homes, which was regarded as an oddity when it began a decade ago, is becoming a trend. More and more wealthy Jews from all over the world, admirers of Tel Aviv, appreciate its urban landscape and the local architecture. They are willing to invest a great deal of money in buying buildings on the verge of collapse in the historic center of the city between Rothschild Boulevard and the beach and reconstructing them according to the most stringent preservation standards, while adapting them to their special needs.

These renovated and upgraded buildings look better than ever and are becoming landmarks in a run-down and neglected part of Tel Aviv. What goes on inside them we can only imagine. Truly wealthy people have refined tastes, are fanatical about their privacy, and really dislike public exposure.

From London to Bialik Street

The building at 9 Bialik Street, constructed in 1929 by the Gross family, was designed by architect Pinchas (Philip) Huett in an eclectic architectural style. Among other things, the building included Parisian-style balconies and a splendid roof on two pillars above the stairs at the entrance. It was an apartment building for years, before being sold in 2007 for $2.5 million.

The buyers were Candida and Zechariya (Jacques) Gertler, who conduct their business from Frankfurt, London, and Paris. The Gertler family has many properties in London and the former East Germany, plus a share of the Carleton, Metropolitan, and Savoy Hotels in Tel Aviv. Among other things, the family is active in new art philanthropy through an international agency it initiated named Outset.

The original building had two storeys and was marked for a stringent level of preservation. The architect responsible for the plan, however, Gidi Bar Orian, managed to persuade the municipality to allow construction of a basement extending to the end of the rear part of the lot. The building's total built area is 1,222 square meters, 405 square meters of which is in the basement.

From New York to Bialik Street

The building at 21 Bialik Street is one of the buildings mistakenly referred to as Bauhaus. Actually, its designer, Shlomo Gepstein (Salomon Kalmentevic), a graduate of the St. Petersburg Academy, adapted his building's style to the fashionable "international style." This is a simple box-shaped apartment building , without ornament, with horizontal windows and light, and surrounded by a garden. The developer who constructed the building was Shlomo Yafe, an engineer and agronomist, who was among the initiators of the Levant Fair.

Ron Lauder, owner of the Esti Lauder cosmetics company, bought the building in 1989. He hired architect Nahum Cohen (whose name appears on the permit) and interior designer Yitzhak (Bobby) Luxembourg and renovated the building with a little additional construction on the roof. The 1996 building permit indicates that the total built space was 950 square meters. It had a gallery (the Bauhaus Museum) and an apartment on the ground floor, one 240-square meter apartment each on both the second and third floors, and a small apartment on the roof. The building belonged to Lauder, while Daniella Luxembourg, an Israel-American art trader whom Lauder appointed as chief curator of the Bauhaus Museum, also had an apartment in this building.

From Geneva to Yehuda Halevy Street

The building at 8 Yehuda Halevy Street is one of twin buildings on the western part of the street, with the backs of the houses facing the route of the railway from Jerusalem to Jaffa. The two buildings were constructed in 1920-1922 in an eclectic style according to a design by Jerusalem architects Wilhelm Hecker and Eliezer Yellin, among the founders of the Rehavia neighborhood in Jerusalem. The building at 6 Yehuda Halevy Street, renovated in 2008, is currently an apartment house.

French-Israeli businessperson Patrick Drahi is believed to be the wealthiest person in Israel. Drahi, described as the fifth wealthiest person in France, owns international communications company Altice and is a shareholder in Israeli companies Hot and Mirs. He resides permanently in Switzerland and maintains an apartment in the 1 Rothschild Boulevard tower in Tel Aviv. Drahi bought the building and is apparently planning to create a new residential base for himself and his family in the Neve Tzedek neighborhood. According to figures from the Israel Tax Authority, the building was purchased in two installments: one of $1.324 million and the second of $1.484 million.

The building at 8 Yehuda Halevy Street has three storeys and two basement floors. Each floor has 350 square meters of space. There will be 160 square meters of construction on the roof. The total built space of 1,924 square meters is divided, at least formally, into six apartments: four 156-square meter apartments and two 66-square meter apartments. The preservation architect for the building, whose name appears on the permit, is Naor Meimar, and the interior architect is Orly Shrem.

From Stockholm to Nachmani Street

The pagoda building in King Albert Square is a kind of local icon. Nevertheless, 30 years ago the advocates of preservation had to wage a struggle against its being demolished. The building was designed in the 1920s by architect Alexander Levy and commissioned by an American Jew named Morris (Moshe David) Bloch. The eclectic architecture combines an East Asian pagoda with classical and Islamic motifs.

The building was put in the strictest preservation category. In 1995, following years of neglect, developer and contractor Reuven Peled bought it for $3.6 million from diamond trader Otto Birnbach. Peled sold it to Swedish businessperson Robert Weil in 1998 for $5.2 million. The preservation of the building was planned by Danish-Israeli architect Ulrik Plessner, and French interior designer Andree Putman designed the interior.

The building's area totals 981 square meters and it also has a 468-square meter basement. A swimming pool and sauna were built on the first floor, the second floor has bedrooms, and the third floor has a living room and a kitchen. A glass room was built on the roof. The basement was enlarged to the dimensions of the lot, and technical systems were installed.

From Geneva to Ahad Ha'am

The home of author and journalist Yehoshua Hana Ravnitzky was designed in 1929 by architect Joseph Berlin at the corner of Mazeh Street and Ahad Ha'am Street. The house, designed in the first place as an urban private home, fits in well with the area's hilly topography. The building style is eclectic with art deco elements and makes extensive use of play between bricks and plaster. The building has been through many changes over the years: a school for children with disabilities operated on the ground floor, a bomb shelter was added to the building during WWII, and another floor was added in the 1950s.

A few years ago, Ravnitzky's descendants sold the building to the family of Eliane Meier from Switzerland. According to records on the Tax Authority's website, the building was sold in August 2014 for $5.5 million. The buyers hired the Kimmel Eshkolot Architects firm to renovate the building. In the request for a building permit, architect Etan Kimmel states that the entire building will become a single unit, the building will be preserved, the changes will be only internal, the basement will be enlarged, and a swimming pool will be built on the roof. The built space totals 440 square meters. The house is currently undergoing renovations.

From New York to the corner of Hess Street and Idelson Street

The urban private home at the corner of Hess Street and Idelson Street was designed in 1931-1933 by Jerusalem architect Richard Kaufmann (also responsible for planning Afula, Nahalal, and the Rehavia neighborhood in Jerusalem) for Dr. Victoria Kruskal, who both lived and worked in the building. The building originally had three storeys and was designed in the international style: a box structure, separate wings, an emphasis on horizontal elements, a narrow vertical window in stairwell, and no ornaments.

The building was donated to the Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and was purchased in the 1990s by Dov Gottesman, an Israeli and international businessperson who among other things was one of the leading art collectors in Israel. He served as president of the Israel Museum after the death of Teddy Kollek. In 1993, the Gottesman family, through their son Asaf Gottesman, submitted a request to add a fourth floor and to divide the entire building into two housing units. Under the new plan, the total built space in the building was 1,619 square meters.

From Tzahala to Karl Netter Street

The building at 2 Karl Netter Street was first designed in the 1920s by architect Dov Tchudnowski for developer Haim Ochakovsky as an apartment building with six apartments. The architectural style is eclectic, reflected in the range of ornaments, decorated balconies, and cornices. The interior walls of the building were illuminated, as were the floors.

Unusually, the building was renovated in two separate stages. 10 years ago, the southern half was renovated, becoming an urban private home with a separate entrance. Only recently was the northern part near Montefiore Street renovated.

It can be assumed that this unusual form of renovation is linked to the fact that the purchasers of the southern part of the building were lawyer. and former Tel Aviv City Council member Dan Lahat (son of late Tel Aviv Mayor Shlomo "Chich" Lahat) and Ronit Reichman, daughter of Prof. Uriel Reichman. According to the Tax Authority's figures, Lahat and Reichman bought the three southern apartments in the building in 2004 for only NIS 2.5 million, hired preservation architect Nitza Metzger-Szmuk and Kimmel Eshkolot Architects, and filed a request for a permit to renovate 350 square meters of built space, including additional construction in the rear of the building, with a stairway framework and an elevator connecting the four levels.

Actually, the Lahat-Reichman family took three apartments and made them into a single vertical apartment. In contrast to foreign tycoons, Ronit Reichman, who is a real estate developer, did not hesitate to report the project to the press, and this was probably worthwhile, because two years ago, the house was sold for NIS 31.5 million to lawyer and real estate dealer Tammy Perry.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 3, 2018

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018

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House on Karl Netter St.
House on Karl Netter St.
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