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Oren Katz

An Interview with Oren Katz from Neve Tzedek

 In 1994 Oren Katz came to Neve Tzedek and fell in love with it. “I saw beautiful houses, remarkable architecture and people familiar with each other. The magic of the atmosphere in Neve Tzedek captured my heart and I decided to open a Real Estate office there. Everyone considered I was crazy, because in those years Neve Tzedek was regarded as a neglected neighborhood and had a bad image. I perceived the potential. In the first year I sat in my office – there was not much action. I spent my time searching for properties and making contact with long-time residents. Warm-hearted inhabitants, old synagogues, filled with a neighborly atmosphere that you can’t find in any other area in Tel Aviv, even today. These same people are those who brought the first customers to my office in Sharabi Street in Neveh Tzedek; it was the sale of a small house”. 

What was your first important project in Neve Tzedek?

In 1995, people belonging to an international Paris-based organization named “Kol Yisrael Chaverim” (Alliance Israélite Universelle) who owned some land came to me and I received the “Suzanne Dellal Residence” project in whose construction and marketing they participated also. In that same period the plaza outside was renovated and the entire area began to be developed. Over the years, building activities began to gain force in the area. The theater “Yaron Yerushalmi” based its home here, as did the dance company “Bat Sheva” and the area continued to develop. At the same time, foreign residents began to show interest in the developing neighborhood, especially as they perceived the European atmosphere of Neve Tzedek, expressed in the low buildings with tiled roofs, the nearness to the sea, coffee houses and restaurants that began to flourish here and fashion shops and boutiques. Slowly it was possible to see how the old shoemaker and tailor shop rested side by side with modern shops and French-styled coffee houses and so on. All these aspects enchanted the new residents, who felt as if they were living in a village, not in a busy town”.

 Did you live at that time in Neve Tzedek?

“Of course, I have been a resident of the neighborhood from the start. I changed apartments several times and now I live in this street with my wife and our 4 children. We are just like all the other inhabitants here in Neveh Tzedek; we gain pleasure from the synagogues, the community center that offers varied activities for children and the whole family, grocery stores and the supermarket. The village-like atmosphere in Neveh Tzedek has developed due to the fact that there is no noise in the area, no buses run here and parking on the sides of the roads is not allowed because of the narrow streets. We also enjoy our life here with the original and new residents”. 

 Apartments have risen to double value.

“Regarding real estate, Neve Tzedek is an rare phenomenon and no other area in the country bears similarity to it. Firstly, Neveh Tzedek was pronounced a preserved neighborhood; on this basis strict ruling is applied to the buildings here regarding the planning that include different limits with the aim to preserve the architectural character of the neighborhood. For example, in Neve Tzedek it is not permitted to build high buildings – the limit is three floors. All buildings in Neve Tzedek, old and new, have tiled roofs, in order to maintain the uniform appearance that restores the appearance of the original houses. Houses must not have an exterior covering of marble or stone, instead they are covered with colored Mediterranean-style plaster, from an official catalogue of colors. The window shutters must be wood and windows framed with Belgian profile, in order to create an identical Mediterranean style for all the buildings in Neve Tzedek.

“As said previously, the outstanding appearance of the beautiful houses has brought many people to Neve Tzedek who immediately fell in love with it. They transformed the neighborhood into a Real Estate gem and the value of the apartments has risen in the past two decades by hundreds of percentages.

In 1994 you could purchase a private house in Neve Tzedek for between 20 to 100 thousand dollars.” Oren said, “Today the same house costs between one million and two million dollars. That is, a twenty times rise, on average! Rental fees have risen too; 20 years ago you could rent a 3-roomed apartment for 400 dollars, today rent of a 3-roomed apartment in Neve Tzedek is 1600 dollars on average”.

 How do you explain these high prices?

“The supply is lower than the high demand. In regard to the scope of new building, almost no more free plots remain for building on, in Neve Tzedek. If in the beginning I had difficulty in persuading people to come and live in Neveh Tzedek, today Neveh Tzedek is at its peak, it is well-developed and has all that a family needs (kindergartens, schools, community services) today I hardly need to advertise the neighborhood – customers come on their own initiative. My role, as an estate agent and manager of a real estate company, is to find the most suitable property for them and to settle price differences, if any.

Nevertheless, Neve Tzedek has reached maximum utilization in building development, in regard to new buildings in the area. In the future, there will be changes in the residents regarding the apartments but whoever desires to live in Neve Tzedek and cannot find an apartment in the neighborhood itself, will be able to choose to live on the outskirts of Neve Tzedek, for example on the west side of Rothschild Blvd, in the sea front area or in the Carmel Market area. Foreign residents sometimes prefer the luxury of the towers that were built in the vicinity of Neve Tzedek, for example, the Neve Tzedek Tower that was built in the southern area, the White City in the north and Rothschild 1 in the western area, because they offer very high building standards, a physical fitness room, a spa, a swimming pool, underground parking and so on.”

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All information regarding a property for sale or rental is from sources deemed reliable. No representation is made as to the accuracy thereof, and such information is subject to errors, change of price, rental, commission, prior sale, lease or financing, or withdrawal without notice. All square footage and dimensions are approximate. Exact dimensions can be obtained by retaining the services of a professional architect or engineer.

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