After decades in which Bat Yam was one of the weakest and poorest cities in the Gush Dan area, the picture is beginning to change. This is reflected in the price of apartments that have risen significantly in recent years as well as the multitude of urban renewal projects that are being developed. Today, the icing on the cake is a new luxury neighborhood that is being built on the coastline of the city. But as sales gain more traction, will the negative image that has traditionally been associated with Bat Yam linger or be quickly forgotten?
Located in the heart of Gush Dan, on a long, beautiful stretch of the coast, Bat Yam could have become a significant and powerful city, but in practice, this did not happen. Massive absorption of new immigrants, both in the 1950s from North Africa and in the 1990s from the former Soviet Union, alongside decades of neglect and poor management have made Bat Yam one of the weakest and poorest cities in the wealthy central region of Israel. In recent years, the city has even faced a budget deficit of hundreds of millions of shekels, which led the Ministry of Finance to initiate its union with Tel Aviv. Only recently, after the success of a recovery plan for the city, was this initiative canceled.
However, in the past few years, Israel real estate developers, investors, and buyers have begun to discover the unrealized potential of Bat Yam – a city with a narrow structure that extends from north to south, which allows you to reach the beach from any point within a half hour’s walk. As mentioned above, the city is located in the heart of Gush Dan, with Tel Aviv to the North, Holon to the East, and Rishon LeZion to the south. Residents of the city are expected to receive a significant bonus this year, with the commencement of operation of the first light rail line – the Red Line. The Red Line, which crosses the length of the city, is expected to get residents to the bustling commercial and entertainment areas of central Tel Aviv – Rothschild Boulevard, the Sarona and Florentine complex within 15 minutes.
These benefits have not gone unnoticed by buyers and entrepreneurs, bringing a development boom to the city, and a great demand for apartments. According to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, the average price of an apartment in the city in the last quarter of 2021 was NIS 1.87 million, an increase of about 20% compared to the average price at the end of 2019, which was NIS 1.57 million at the time. For 3-room apartments, there was a particularly sharp price jump, from NIS 1.34 million to NIS 1.62 million today. The average price of a 4-room apartment according to the data was NIS 2.06 million during the last quarter, while the prices of five-bedroom apartments reached nearly NIS 3 million.
Bat Yam currently has about 130,000 residents, in an area of 7,000 dunams, making it the densest city in Israel. Socioeconomically, the rating of the city is 5 out of 10, which is the second-lowest in the central region, after Bnei Brak. Generally speaking, those who walk around the city will not feel that it is an impressive area by any means, — the old city center is suffering from severe neglect and requires a massive renovation, and the streets around it are dominated by the gray facade of the old housing projects. However, in quite a few places, massive urban renewal projects are already underway and changing the appearance of the city, leading agile investors to purchase old apartments in the city on the assumption that sooner or later urban renewal will reach them too.
One such project, in the center of the city, saw the demolition of 5 “railway buildings” making room for six 40-story towers, containing 1,100 apartments, alongside commercial areas, offices, and hotels. Another project being developed in the south of the city will see the sale of more than 700 apartments built in four 35-story towers, with thousands of square meters of commercial and office space.
In addition to the urban renewal that is going on in the city, a new luxury neighborhood, Park Hayam, is currently being built on the southern part of the coastal strip, which may be one of the most interesting new neighborhoods in Israel. At a press conference held six months ago on the occasion of the commencement of the construction of one of the new projects there, Mayor Zvika Brut defined the neighborhood as “the main growth engine of the city”– the neighborhood that will change the urban DNA of Bat Yam and turn the negative image of the city into a thing of the past.”
To this end, and in order to attract a new and affluent population, the municipality does not intend to spare any resources. According to the municipality’s plan, 10,000 new apartments will be built in an area of about 600 dunams, with shopping and entertainment complexes, a business center, hotels, public and cultural buildings, a sports center, and a park on the coastal promenade.
The neighborhood also enjoys excellent transportation accessibility. Close to the interchange that connects to the main national transportation arteries – Ayalon Highway and Route 431, Park Hayam is also within short walking distance of the “Kumamiot” train station and near the southernmost train station of the light rail line that leads to Tel Aviv. Home prices in the neighborhood reflect its advantages, with the average price of a 4-room apartment ranging between NIS 2.7 million and NIS 2.9 million and the prices of 5-room apartments around NIS 3.5 million.
Although there has been a sharp increase in home prices in Bat Yam in recent years, the assessment among real estate professionals is that the city has not yet had the last word with a great deal more growth potential to be realized. This makes investment in Bat Yam an unusual opportunity today, relative to the rest of the central region, in particular its neighbors.
Despite the city’s efforts, change will not occur in Bat Yam overnight. Much of the city’s population remains on the weaker strata and will remain the same in the coming decades, but as the city grows and housing units increase in number, this proportion of the population will decrease providing good real estate opportunities, both for investment and for housing.