Zichron Yaacov -- "Villot Bahoresh" ("Villas in the Woods")

וילות בחורשFrom Villas in the woods to woods amongst the villas


The Villot Bahoresh community of Zichron Yaacov offers the quality of life of the modern American suburbs, close to the Moshava center. It is not a coincidence that it is one of the most desirable neighborhoods by new immigrants, and Israeli citizens returning from the Unites States.


The neighborhood borders the established "Moshava" of Zichron Yaacov, whose southern border runs along the length of HaMeyassdim Street and Pinelis Way. On the east it borders with Arazim Street, and the end of the eastern side stops at Shzif and Tapuch Streets. The Northeast border has houses that look out to a view of Tapuach Street, and the from the west it ends at The "Horesh" School and the sports and "Hazmacha" ("growth") facilities which are being built there in the area which was planned to be the route of the northern bypass road


 The community originated with the private acquisition of land from the owners. The Tzafcha Company (now called Tzafcha International) that also built the Mul Hayekev neighborhood in Zichron Yaacov, under the leadership of Morris Berchfeld acquired the land, and in 1995 initiated the development of the residential neighborhood. The company is connected with the Kahat-Mansfield Architects (that was founded by Professor Al Mansfield, winner of the Israel Architecture Award) who planned the Israel Museum. It is hard to believe, but only 11 years ago there was a giant forest in the very place where the houses of the community now stand.


The houses were built in a style that reflects the style of the Architect.  Modern Israeli simplicity in the best sense of the term.  Do you recognize the white blocks that go up and down the walls of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem? They are also in Villot Bahoresh. The houses are marketed in 6 different models, but through all of them you will see repeating motifs. All the houses are painted white, in all of them there was a determined attempt of the architect to conceal the pitched tiled roof to which he was obliged to by the local Zichron Yaacov zoning (we will get back to the meanings of this struggle)The solution was that all the houses were built with tiled roofing, however, they are hidden from the street level by a railing that surrounds the roof, this way from the ground they look the same as flat roofed houses, as the architect wanted them to be right for their design. Designing of the houses is really pleasant as appropriate to a top tier architectural firm. Some of the houses are split-level homes, where as to go to another level you either go up or down half a floor. This plan uses more space and leaves space for a smaller garden, but is wonderful for traffic within the home. In most of the houses there is a space that is double in height in the dining room. The double height gives a feeling of spaciousness of the common area of the house, but there is also the possibilities (and some buyers have already done this) to close up this space and create on the upper floor another room additional (sort of a mini envelope). This was a visual solution to the pitched tiled roof, but there's a catch, though: the pitched tiled roof slope that goes down into the roof slab's frame requires a good drainage system, tight execution of the details plans, and maintenance of the gutters. In the absence of this, many owners suffer from moisture problems until over the years they fixed this nuisance. The community was established with the help of Tzafcha, and other contractors, and not all of them stood up to the required standard. Today, these nuisances have been fixed by the owners.


נוה שליוThe density of the neighborhood is relatively low. The plots are approximately 500-600 SqM, and they are designated in the city building plans as a single apartment unit, called "The Villas". 36% construction rights for a home of no less than 180-200 SqM on a plot in the community. And calculate into this that square meters of these houses are split between two floors, construction of a house will occupy no more than a quarter of the land (a bit more than houses that are split level). And so, today after more than 10 years have past since the community was built, even the trees that were planted at the establishment of the community have grown and matured. The community is lush and very green and this greenery adds to the endearing appearance and quality of life of its inhabitants. The standard of development in the community is very high. The work was finished only two years ago after a tough struggle by the residents in the local municipality, but the struggle and the development that followed is already behind us. The entire infrastructure is underground so you don't see electrical wires or telephone lines. The sidewalks of jigsaw-like tiles, fences, street lamps, and all the other "street furnishing" elements, are lovely and uniform. Other advantages to the community are the uniformity of the house (single homes only) public gardens, the walking distance to the Moshava center, schools and synagogues. Many houses look out to a view of the mountains and valley, and others look out as well to a (partial) seaside view of the Mediterranean.


In total there are 100 houses on the market in the community, and for relatively high prices from Zichron Yaacov in the nineties: between $350,000 and $450,000. When the building was completed marketing also began in 1999 for plots for independent building for prices starting at $125,000 per half dunam plot in 1999 and reaching $230,000 per plot in 2003. As marketing, which was going slowly, ended, prices were raised continuously.


The community attracted many Haifa residents, many of which after seeing it moved to the Denia neighborhood, and so it began the prices of homes in Villot Bahoresh were half the price of an equal size home in Haifa of the same prestige. The high prices brought people of a strong socio-economic standing to the neighborhood, many doctors and lawyers. Many immigrants as well: in the first wave there was also big new money directly from the former Soviet Union  (which has since left to Caesarea, Herzliya, and the center) and in the last years many hi-tech people and many immigrants and returning Israeli citizens from the United States. And of "wearers of "Kippah Srugah" (crocheted yarmulke) would find the reasonable walking distance to the synagogues in the center of the Moshava, as well as the religious state "Yabetz" school  and the synagogues  on holidays and Shabbat that is held at the Horesh school.

נוה שליוBut what is now, Real-Estate-Wise calles "Villot Bahoresh" did not start as the "Villot Bahoresh" development of Zifhah. The development wraps as a horsehose what once used to be "Shukkun Zafon: of the Northern Housing Project of Neve Shalev, one of the most beautiful areas of Zichron Yaacov, that are of the Authentic "style of yesteryear". The community was built in the 50's and 60's as a neighborhood of immigrants from Eastern Europe that arrived in Zichron Yaacov. The agency homes that were built there were tiny, approx. 40 SqM for each house, but the large plots and the construction rights that are not crowded (4 units per dunam) make the properties today some of the most desired  of those "in the know" that see the potential beyond the tiny homes in the heart of a grassy field. The flat roads like HaShzif and HaTapuch of the "northern neighborhood" of Villot Bahoresh with its tall trees,  and atmosphere still preserve the rustic character of years gone. And so, the real estate prices in this preferred community, stuck, and even got the prices of the properties in Villot Bahoresh that envelopes it. The prices of the old houses have gone up by 50% in only the last 3 years




There are two main factors that affect the prices of homes in Villot Bahoresh: building privately or part of the development and location within the community. Home built privately yield a better price the those that are part of the development. It is hard to find a home I Villot Bahoresh for less than half a million dollars. Homes usually sell in the range of $500,000-$700,000. There are some exceptions: Houses built close to the view on Tapuch Street get higher prices (even though they are relatively close to highway 70) And if it's a house with luxuries like a swimming pool for example, they can get up to $800,000 or more. Homes on the higher part of HaArazim Street, that are near Hamaginim Street and ברחוב המייש afford a short walk to the Center of the Moshava. This advantage is expressed in a higher price that buyers are prepared to pay for. Homes on Pineles Way which has heavy traffic go for around $430,000. Homes for demolition/construction on Tapuach and Shezif sell for approximately $350,000 for a home on a 750 SqM plot that is for 3 housing units ( but you must remember that the geometry and minimum plot space listen an the Taba really only allow for no more than 2 units) Attached home built on these plots cost around the $400,000 level and up.


There are no plots available for building in the community. In the eastern side of the community there is a site which is a large area of land in plots 11323 and 11324 that are designated within the city building plan as agricultural land, but from the ל"סיומם הבלתי מסוים"of streets in the neighborhood that go from west to east like SHezif, and Tapuach are similar in that they are also part of the city building plan, and the city cancel are not building because this land is remaining agricultural land forever. And so, for a few years there have been land owners that are trying to promote a change in the designation of this large site to residential. The council from its side is fully against any change from agricultural to residential. We estimate that after the development of Givat Zamarin, from the east to the site, in turn will also have geometrically and geographically end up having an agricultural area within the developed area. For the time being the plots of approx. half dunam sell for $30,000. This land is sold as "an undefined part" of the relatively bigger part of 30-40 dunam per part. If we assume that  these plots sell for at least $250,000  the levy tax is less and raises the development costs, still the prices of these agricultural plots are very attractive, and this, of-course, to those that assume that the conversion of them to land zoned for residential construction is not an issue of if but rather, when.


And the woods of Villas in the woods? Today, the woods is amongst the Villas... especially on the streets names HaArazim, Tapuch, Shzif, Te'enah, Duvdevan, Shikma, etc. The remaining bit of natural woods can be seen in the community in the spot that goes up from the public park on Shzif Street, the area below the Yabetz School, and a number of trees around the streets of the community.

A version of this article by Yoav Etiel appeared in the "Magazin Hamoshavot" weekly

Yoav Etiel is a Partner at BarEl Properties, Ltd.

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