Billionaire businessman Patrick Drahi is buying a Tel Aviv building from Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team owner Shimon Mizrahi for NIS 110 million. Drahi is the controlling shareholder in international telecom group Altice, which owns Israeli telecom company Hot.
The house that Drahi is buying at 9 Yehuda Halevi Street in central Tel Aviv, which was built in the 1920s and is subject to a preservation order.
According to the Israel Tax Authority website, Drahi paid NIS 60 million for the transfer of the rights of two-thirds of the building and when the conveyance is completed he will pay the balance of the NIS 50 million. In the land registry the property is recorded as belonging to Drahi's Luxembourg company Zara. The property is called Shimon Mizrahi House after the name of the Maccabi Tel Aviv owner's grandfather Shimon Mizrahi. Mizrahi told "Globes," "We are undergoing procedures but this has not yet been completed. Even if it is sold the heritage of the place will remain."
The 1,233 square meter building is on the border of Neve Tzedek and the city's financial district and was built by Mizrahi's grandfather, one of the veteran residents of Neve Tzedek.
The building was designed by renowned Tel Aviv architect Yehuda Magidovitch and was built in 1922 as a one-floor house. The preservation order says, "The building excelled in design and architectural planning, which was unique to the region with an impressive main facade in a neo-classical style, built of sand-rock stone and rich in stone decorations, carpentry details and unique frames." Later, in the 1930s and 1950s, another floor with a different architectural design was added to the building.
In its early years, the building was used as a residential villa. After three years, when Shimon Mizrahi the grandfather passed away, the building was leased to Dr. Yitzhak Freud, and was used as a private maternity hospital. In 1948, it was converted into a military hospital during the liberation of Jaffa, and served as an organization headquarters for IDF during the War of Independence.
In the 1950s, following the establishment of Assuta, Hadassah and the Kiriya hospitals, the maternity hospital was closed and rented out as office space. In the 1960s it was used as an educational building, and since 1998 it has been used as the headquarters of Bank Leumi's workers' committee.
The building has remained under the ownership of the Mizrahi family throughout the years, and is not included in the UNESCO "White City" Bauhaus preservation area, but is included as a building for eclectic preservation in Tel Aviv's conservation plan 2650b - that is, the building cannot be demolished and restrictions apply to its preservation. According to a real estate figure who is familiar with this type of transaction, the current deal is expensive, and reflects the personal interest and historical value of the building.
After the purchase is completed by Drahi, will the use of the building revert to residential use? According to the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality, "Any request (to convert the use to residential), will be examined individually and the uses of the building will be determined in accordance with the preservation plan. The building is not designated for strict preservation, and construction additions adapted to the nature of the building can be allowed."
The deal to buy Shimon Mizrahi House expands Drahi's property portfolio of unique buildings for preservation on Yehuda Halevi Street. Drahi also owns the neighboring building at 8 Yehuda Halevi Street, which is also a building with a preservation order that he purchased and renovated. His daughter currently lives there. Drahi himself lives on an entire floor in Rothschild Tower 1.
Drahi is reportedly one of the five richest people in France. As well as Altice he acquired Sotheby's auction house in 2019 for $3.7 billion. In addition to Hot, in Israel, among other things, he owns the international news channel I24NEWS. About a year ago, in September 2022, Drahi sold the Rabbi Kook complex in Neve Tzedek for NIS 200 million, seven years after he purchased it for NIS 133 million through a foreign company.
Drahi declined to comment on the report.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on September 12, 2023.
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