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Tel Aviv's Allenby Street set for revival

Allenby Street was once Tel Aviv's most important thoroughfare. Over the years its fortunes have waned, until it reached its current situation - a noisy main road packed with buses and neglected buildings, struggling businesses, and pollution. And yet, according to a recent survey conducted by the Tel Aviv - Yafo Municipality, Allenby Street is still the city's busiest street, with 1,500 pedestrians passing along it per hour at peak times.

According to the city's master plan, the southern section of the street, up to Rothschild Boulevard, is zoned for buildings of up to 40-floors. The rest of the street is defined as "a built-up area for preservation," where it is only possible to build up to eight floors. To be precise, 67% of the buildings in Allenby Street are slated for preservation, and most of them have strict restrictions on what can be done.

In October 2022, work is due to start on the light rail Purple Line, which is scheduled to serve the public from 2027. As part of the plan, the section of Allenby Street between Yehuda Halevy Street and Ben Yehuda Street will be closed to traffic with four stations along the length of the road - Rothschild/Yehuda Halevy, Montefiore/Beit Hashoeva, King George/Tchernikovsky, and Mograbi. Many projects are planned along the length of the street as part of its revival.

Opera Square - Pedestrian precinct overlooking the sea

Opera Square is at the junction of Allenby and Herbert Samuel Streets close to the seafront. It was formally called Casino Square and then renamed Knesset Square after the establishment of Israel before becoming Opera Square. In 1988 it was renovated with a fountain.

The municipality is currently renovating the square. The municipality said, "As part of the renovation, the area will become a street for pedestrians only, with the latest design and a large fountain overlooking the sea."

Hotel Pinsker at the corner of Allenby and Pinsker Streets

Landau House at the corner of Allenby and Pinsker Streets is on the lot opposite what was once the Mograbi cinema. The building was constructed as an office building in 1947 and acquired by White City Buildings in 2018.

In 2020, an agreement worth NIS 90 million was signed with the Isrotel hotel chain, for the construction of a 160-room hotel with a swimming pool on the roof. The project's architect is Gidi Bar Orian and building the hotel will cost an estimated NIS 100 million.

White City Buildings VP Amikam Berger said, "There are buildings for preservation with massive renewal and there are the plans for the light rail that will make the street much friendlier. These things will enhance the street and make it into an extension of Rothschild Boulevard. Our project is in the more attractive section of Allenby Street. From the building we have bought, you can see the sea and it is opposite a large square. We think that this is a strategic location.

Allenby Street 41-43: Two residential buildings

About a year ago the New Elad Israel Residence Ltd. announced that it had purchased a 572 square meter building at 43 Allenby Street for NIS 55.1 million. The company also signed an agreement to cooperate with the owners of the adjacent property at 41 Allenby Street.

An adjacent project at 2 Tchernikovsky Street is being developed by Griba Zaroura Group, which bought the property for NIS 34.7 million and is investing NIS 65-70 million in the project.

New Elad Israel Residence CEO Ronen Jaffa is very optimistic about the transformation that Allenby Street is undergoing. "When we began the project in the Bezalel Market in 2012, they warned us. They told us that nobody would want to live near King George Street. The reality in 2022 proves that whoever bought an apartment did the deal of their lives because prices there have risen more than 100%, and it's not for no reason. The entire area is developing.

"Allenby Street has everything that you need in order to live in a city. A physical location, close to the sea, close to shopping centers, offices and public transport. And byond that, it is simply a beautiful street with a lot of buildings for preservation. It's a street that's alive 24/7."

100-102 Allenby Street : Apartments for rent and stores

Yuvalim and City Boy, owned by AM"PM founder Ram Belinkis, are building a joint project at 100-102 Allenby Street. There will be two buildings each with six-floors. At 100 Allenby Street there will be 30 small two-three room apartments, which will become long-term rentals. There will be commercial premises on the ground floor. The companies bought the property in 2016 for NIS 25 million, when there was an old residential building on the lot.

At 102 Allenby Street there will be and office building with commercial premises on the ground floor. The project has also been designed by Bar-Orian Architects and with a building permit already received construction should begin in about two months.

Renovation of the Tel Aviv Great Synagogue: Just like a century ago

The Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality has a special interest in renovating the city's Great Synagogue and also plans converting the car park to the west and north of the building into a public square.

According to the plan, the concrete colonnades that were designed by the architect Arieh El-Hanani in the 1960s, will be removed, and the building will be restored to its original lines as designed 100 years ago by Yehuda Magidovitch. The cost of the renovation will be tens of millions of shekels.

Piano House - Corner of Allenby and Ahad Ha'am Streets

Nitzan Group is currently completing work on the shell of Piano House at the corner of Allenby Street 99-101 and 25-27 Ahad Ha'am Street. As part of the project, three buildings will be constructed with shared walls and underground parking. This project has also been designed by architect Gideon Bar-Orian. The developers paid NIS 300 million for the land and will invest NIs 120 million in construction.

Project developer Shahar Machat explains that he likes the "green atmosphere" of the street. "It's a street with a lot of significant trees on both sides. We identified the transport transformation that Allenby will undergo and the transformation of the Great Synagogue next to the project."

Machat stressed that this will be a luxury project costing NIS 70,000 per square meter and that the target group is the richest Israelis, who won't need to take a mortgage.

The municipality: This is a street with wonderful quality

Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality engineering administration senior planning coordinator Adi Avitan welcomes the renewal but expresses concern that the street will be over-gentrified resulting in an unbalanced mix between housing, offices and commercial real estate.

"Allenby Street has wonderful quality. A lot of buildings for preservation, a street with human proportions, shade along it, small stores with diverse character. But there is also complexity and various problems in terms of the usage that has developed along the street. In the coming years with the light rail will change the face of the street and we will see more buildings undergoing a process of preservation, more housing and hotels and perhaps less offices, which will probably influence the values of the land on the street and change it from a ragged street into an exclusive one, while not losing the quality that typifies the street.

We have prepared a guiding work document that will attempt to understand the tends and cope with the anticipated challenges, identify the quality and recommendations for preserving its characteristics, like inner courtyards, passages and stores between buildings, kiosks and a series of squares and new squares. A survey of urban nature was conducted in cooperation with the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI). We want to see a living street with a balanced mix." Tel Aviv deputy mayor Meital Lehavi who holds the transport portfolio, promises that even if the street is blocked to cars, it will still remain connected. "The renewed Allenby will still be an historic street and it will include the light rail, two-way bicycle lanes, as well as wide, shady sidewalks with mature trees. With the help of all these, we will successfully get rid of air pollution, soot and noised and the street will become friendlier for pedestrians, visitors and tenants, like Jaffa Road in Jerusalem or Jerusalem Boulevard in Jaffa."

Traffic will be halted altogether. "However, it will still allow traffic connectivity to the surrounding and outside streets."

Another angle: The surprising Allenby light rail station

The Allenby light rail station is near the junction of Allenby Street with Yehuda Halevy, Mikveh Yisrael and Bezalel Yaffe Streets. It is the final underground station on the southern section of the light rail's Red Line. The station is 22 meters deep and has three levels. Some 36,000 passengers a day are expected to pass through the station and 10 million annually. The Red Line is set to start operating in November 2022, and it is possible that it will begin running then.

Tel Aviv - Yafo Municipality asked that the station should have a low profile and therefore it will barely be visible from the street. But going down the escalators to the concourse, a different world will appear. In the concourse are services and ticket offices and from here passengers go down another level to the platforms and light rail carriages. There is a glass screen along the edge of the platform with doors that will open to correspond with the doors of the carriages when the train arrives. The station can also serve as a bomb shelter against chemical and nuclear weapons.