Billionaire Patrick Drahi, who controls HOT Telecommunication Systems Ltd. (TASE: HOT), and who was recently ranked the wealthiest man in Israel by Forbes magazine, with a fortune worth some NIS 10 billion, has decided, like many others, to invest his capital in real estate. Sources inform "Globes" that Drahi has bought the "Rav Kook" site Tel Aviv's Neve Tzedek neighborhood for NIS 130 million, not including VAT.
The site lies between Hamered, Eliezer Rokach and Ein Yaakov streets. There are several historic buildings on it with strict preservation orders, a few buildings marked for demolition, and some empty lots. Among the buildings designated for preservation is the Rabbi Kook Synagogue, built in 1904, and the study hall of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, who was the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Palestine under the British mandate. The site was owned by Yeshuati, a company controlled by US businessman Yaniv Zaguri.
A few years ago, a company called Erez Neve Tzedek, owned by Raanan Aloni, was given an option to buy the site. With architect Gal Marom, the company formulated a plan for the entire site that conformed to the Tel Aviv municipality's requirement for the preservation of existing buildings, including the synagogue, and the conversion of the study hall to a museum of the legacy of Rabbi Kook and commercial use, as well as adding 6,000 square meters of residential and hotel space. The company started marketing apartments on the site. One of the people who expressed interest in an apartment was Patrick Drahi. In the end, Drahi decided to buy the entire site himself, and he can now choose to build a residential project consisting of 40-70 apartments, most of them overlooking the sea, but it is believed that he will in fact build far fewer apartments. In August 2012, the site was valued by assessor Yigal Sagi at NIS 159 million.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 28, 2014
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