King David Street

King David Street is one of Jerusalem’s most prestigious streets. It has a lot going for it because it combines tourism, very high-end residences and high class commerce. In addition it has distinctive architecture, a famous hotel and an observation tower at the YMCA with a stunning view. Real estate is very expensive and with the exception of Galei Techelet in Herzeliya Pituach, King David Street is one of, if not the most expensive in Israel. All this and more can be found in a single street that typifies the unique and diverse nature of the city itself. A religous cultural historic cum tourist center.

One of the major landmarks of the street is the stately and prestigious King David Hotel; a Jerusalem icon with an eventful history. It was built in 1934, and quickly became one of the leading hotels in the Middle East. The British Mandatory authorities rented the right wing and used it as the center of the administration in Palestine. In 1946, the right wing was completely destroyed in a terrorist attack by the IRGUN, a militant Jewish dissident organization. The entire right wing of the hotel was completely rebuilt, and today it is once again one of the leading hotels in the Middle East, which has played host to illustrious guests — presidents, kings, diplomats, celebrities — all have stayed in the hotel, with its grand lobby and Old World atmosphere.

Another block down the street is the Hebrew Union College, established in 1963. The Jerusalem campus is the academic, spiritual and professional leadership development center of the Reform Movement in Israel. They prepare leaders who will strengthen Israel’s Reform synagogues, institutions, and schools and who advance the vitality and continuity of Jewish life in Israel, North America, Europe and around the world. The five-acre campus, overlooking the ancient walled city of Jerusalem, is situated on King David Street near the center of the city. The first limestone-clad buildings, erected in 1963, were designed in the International Style by architect Heinz Rau, and feature a distinctive staircase entry into the campus. In 1988, the campus was greatly expanded into a landmark complex, designed by internationally renowned architect, Moshe Safdie. Its courtyards, arches, gates and walkways are quintessentially Jerusalem. The campus has become a true center of progressive Judaism, housing the offices of the Israel Religious Action Center and adjoining Mercaz Shimshon-Beit Shmuel, the headquarters of both the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism and the World Union for Progressive Judaism.

Across the street is another historical landmark. The YMCA was built in 1928 by Lord Palmer, the British High Commissioner for Palestine, on a plot of land in the Western section of Jerusalem purchased from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. The building, with its elegant arches, domes and tower, is an architectural gem and it is another important landmark in this city of landmarks. For many years it was the center of cultural, athletic, social and intellectual life in Jerusalem. Until 1991, the YMCA stadium was the only soccer stadium in Jerusalem, and for many years its swimming pool the only one in the city.

The stadium was demolished to make way for a luxury housing project currently known as King David’s Crown. Besides the magnificent historical buildings on King David Street, new residential projects have been built including King David’s Gardens, King David’s Crown, and King David’s Residences. These luxury properties cater to foreign buyers who want vacation apartments in Jerusalem. Comprising over 800 new properties, prices can range anywhere from $8,000 – $15,000 per sqm, depending on size, floor and view. Panoramic and unobstructed views of the Old City walls can even command prices as high as $20,000 per sqm.

The famous Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem hotel, which boasts unparalleled amenities, fabulous views of the historic Old City and Independence Park is currently being built at the end of King David Street where it connects to Agron and Mamilla Streets. It will have 223 guest rooms on ten floors, two full-service spas and two fine restaurants. Adjacent to the hotel there is a residential wing with thirty luxury apartments. Prices in this complex range from $2,900,000 to $3,200,000 for approximately 180 sqm., to $6,000,000 for the larger penthouses. The majority of these properties have been bought by wealthy foreign buyers. The residential wing is situated in the gutted shell of the old Palace Hotel, built as a luxury hotel in the 1930’s. The original original façade and authentic character of the original Jerusalem structure has been preserved.

From a real estate perspective, Felicia Mizrachi, a real estate expert with RE/MAX Vision, states “the properties in this area command high prices due to their proximity to the Old City, and the prestige of the area itself.” Recently, two high-end properties on this street were sold, both to foreign buyers who will use them as vacation homes.  The first was a 4-room, 2 bathroom apartment with 120 sqm in the King David’s garden complex. It had a sukkah balcony, a view to the Old City walls, underground parking and a pool in the complex. The property was bought for $2,150,000.

The other property purchased was a roof-garden penthouse in David’s Village (Mamilla) for $1,750,000. It was also a 4-room property, with approximately 100 sqm and a roof terrace overlooking the Old City walls.