Friday, January 8, 2010


It's been a while since I've written about the neighbourhoods surrounding the Rooftop - Neve Tzedek, Shabazi, Florentin, Yaffo and the old city centre. All of them are undergoing rapid transformation as a result of the real estate spree that has ignored the economic crisis and is gentrifying formerly shunned neighbourhoods in south Tel Aviv.

 Our little stretch is a good example.These photos, taken from the Rooftop, are of a building (one of a  pair of twins) over the road, built in the 1920s. For many years it served as a court. By the time we moved in, in the mid '90s it was already empty and neglected and over the years degenerated into a refuge for the homeless, junkies and film crews looking for authentic locations. The first photo was taken in July 2006. The bottom one was taken a few weeks ago. Beautifully conserved and with a swimming pool on the roof, its rich new inhabitants will be part of the trend to move into old conserved buildings. Unfortunately for them, while we we will be looking at their building, they will be stuck with ours.

You can get an idea of what it's going to look like when complete here

A ten minute bike ride south and you're in the newly renovated shuk ha-pishpishim (flea market) in Yaffo. The grubby old alleys have been spruced up with fake cobbles and smart bollards and instead of the junk and heavy dark furniture that was on offer here a decade ago, cafes and restaurants with interior designs leaning heavily on the fleas market have appeared alongside designer shops, high end antiques and trendy hairdressers. New housing projects are bringing newcomers into the area and the old shuk is also developing a nightlife.

Retro is the rage. An authentic sixties lamp beside an old album by Hava Alberstein.

Not far away, the American Colony , until recently a collection of ramshackle wooden houses, originally imported from Maine in the 19th century, has been extended over the past two years into a quiet , tasteful area, with the new buildings  echoing the style of the old. New residential blocks are springing up around it, along Rehov Eilat, one of the arteries that links Tel Aviv to Yaffo and divides Neve Tzedek from Florentin. If the plans to build 7 towers along Rehov Eilat are implemented, thousands of new residents will be flooding into this area.

A sea view, once not consdidered a big deal by Tel Avivians used to regularly encountering the sea, is now worth its weight in gold.  And the higher you are, the more sea you see. Many of the purchasers of apartments in the luxury residential towers (like the one on the right below still under construction) that are springing up in and around the old city centre are foreign residents, often Jews who have come into an inheritance or hi-tech professionals working in Israel. Not the strategically placed balconies.

At the very foot of these towers lie the narrow alleways of Neve Tzeked. Behind them stands Migdal Shalom, Israel's first 'skyscraper' built in the 1960s on the ruins of the old Gymansia Herzlia school, an act now bemoaned by many. The building used to house another 'first' -Kolbo Shalom - Israel's first real department  store which caused a sensation when it opened. The building itself was dubbed "the tallest building in the Middle East". Now, it in turn has being overtaken by rapid new construction and its famous wafer shape -once one of Tel Aviv's symbols - is being blocked out by the competition.

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