Ever since the beautiful “Gymnasia Herzylia” building was demolished in the late 1950s and replaced by the Shalom Towers, the preservation of historical buildings in Tel Aviv has become a hot topic. Over the past twenty years we have witnessed several preservation projects, but it was only three years ago that plan # 2650b was passed.
The goal of the plan is to preserve the urban context of historical Tel Aviv and those buildings named in 2003 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the special Bauhaus style architecture of the buildings .
Ms. Nitza Samuk established the Tel Aviv Municipality Preservation Department and mapped out the relevant sites in the city. Some buildings were declared as worthy of preservation, some are permitted external changes while others are not.
There are several criteria for a building being declared as historical, such as if a historical personality lived in the building, if a significant historical event took place there, or if the building represents special architecture or was designed by a famous architect.
During the preparation of the plan many buildings could not be touched until it was decided whether or not they were slated for preservation. The plan calls for the preservation of about 1600 buildings, 300 of which need strict preservation work.
Over the past few years entire neighborhoods have been preserved thereby changing the face of urban Tel Aviv and enhancing its attraction to tourists.
The buildings still standing in the American Colony, including many of the original prefabricated wooden houses brought by the original settlers in 1886, have been preserved or are currently undergoing preservation. Also, the Jerusalem Hotel is now undergoing renovation and preservation.
Not far from there, the original Jaffa train station, including many of the factory buildings in Jaffa’s German Colony has been renovated. The site has been developed into a popular tourist attraction with many restaurants and stores. Two years ago the German Colony neighborhood “Sarona,” located near the Azrieli Towers, was sold by the Israeli Land Authority to private investors.
This site includes about 30 small farm houses that are currently being renovated by various subcontractors and will be transformed into restaurants, stores, museums and galleries and will include a park in the middle of the site.
In the rest of Tel Aviv many historical buildings have been renovated in the “Achuzat Bayit” neighborhood, which was the original community built outside and along Tel Aviv’s first neighborhood of Neve Tzedek and along Shderot Rothchild which is called “Lev Hair” (the heart of the city).
The renovations call for the replication of original floors, balustrades, shutters, doors and windows. While this all makes renovations very expensive, the finished product is usually well worth the investment and effort as it significantly enhances the building and neighborhood and attracts people who prefer living in trendy urban settings rather than in high rise apartments.