According to the new master plan, the number of residents living in the Mediterranean coastal town of Caesarea is expected to reach 12,000. The plan will add hundreds of hotel rooms and 5,000 square meters of commercial space. Today, the town is home to Russian oligarchs, high-tech entrepreneurs, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Despite its prestigious image, however, members of the upper-middle class can easily find homes in Caesarea starting at NIS 3 million.
A new master plan was approved for an additional 1,600 homes in Caesarea. The plan, which was approved in November by the Haifa District Planning and Construction Committee, will lead to a doubling of the number of residents who live in the Caesarea, which currently stands at 6,000 people. Another one of the goals of the plan is to bolster tourism in the town, and to that end, an additional 670 hotel rooms have been approved for construction, which would double the current number of hotel rooms in the town, plus 5,000 square meters of commercial space will be built.
Caesarea is home to some of Israel’s wealthiest
Located on the Mediterranean coast, just north of Hadera, Caesarea is one of the best-known luxury towns in Israel and is home to a number of Israel’s wealthiest citizens. The town’s most famous resident is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Other well-known residents include oligarch Valery Kogan, high-tech entrepreneur Professor Shlomo Ben-Haim, and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and his wife Irina Nevzlin, who is the daughter of oligarch Leonid Nevzlin. The town, which is located near the remains of ancient Caesarea, a port city that was built by the Romans, is home to Israel’s only international golf club.
You can find a large variety of properties in Caesarea, including luxury mansions with view of the sea worth tens of millions of shekels, villas on 1-dunam (1/4 acre) plots worth NIS 5 or 6 million, and two-family houses on 330-square-meter plots, whose prices range between NIS 3-4 million. In addition to second-hand houses, the Caesarea Development Corporation (CDC), the company that manages land in the town, is offering plots between 600 sq.m. and 700 sq.m. for sale in Caesarea’s newest neighborhood (12), starting at NIS 2.8 million. The CDC is the body that initiated the new master plan that was approved for Caesarea.
A unique model of land ownership
The land on which the town of Caesarea was built was previously owned by Edmund de Rothschild. In the 1960s, his heirs signed a contract with the State of Israel in which ownership of the land was transferred to the Edmond de Rothschild Caesarea Foundation. The CDC was created by the Foundation to develop and improve the land it owns so that it could become a source of income for the Foundation’s activities, and in the late 1970s, the town of Caesarea was founded.
According to this unique model, which does not exist in any other city in Israel, the CDC owns the land and also manages all of the town’s municipal services that in other cities are run by local municipalities. At the present time, property tax funds raised from residents are split between the CDC and the Hof ha’Carmel Regional Council, in which Caesarea is included.
Up until the early 2000s, it seemed that everyone was benefitting from this unique model. By the 1980s, just a few years after the town was established, Caesarea had an ultra-prestigious image of being home to the super rich, and this status only intensified in the 1990s. The fact that the town was managed by a private company and not by a local municipality only added to its exclusivity.
Caesarea real estate values affected
However, since then residents have been feeling the negative consequences of the CDC’s activities on real estate values in Caesarea. One of the conditions for remaining luxurious means that assets must remain scarce — other luxury neighborhoods in Israel, such as Kfar Shmaryahu and Herzliya Pituach have not undergone any expansions in decades. In Caesarea, on the other hand, the CDC has continued executing plans for new neighborhoods and marketing additional lots, since the goal of the Rothschild Foundation was to maximize profits from the land it owns.
Current residents, however, now fear that the continuing development of the town will lead to a drop in value of the homes they already own. Residents who’ve recently put their homes up for sale soon realized that it was going to be difficult to ask such high prices for their properties when potential buyers could purchase a vacant plot in the town. This situation has led to increasing tension between residents and the CDC, and not surprisingly, the Caesarea residents’ committee strongly opposed the promotion of the new master plan, and even tried to prevent it from being approved. This opposition was unsuccessful, and in the end the plan was approved.
While the current residents of Caesarea are discontented, it appears that buyers of property in Israel have benefitted from the ongoing development of the town. Now that real estate prices in Caesarea have fallen, members of the upper-middle class can more easily afford to purchase a detached two-family home for NIS 3 million in a town that is still considered one of the most prestigious in all of Israel.