AS an associate professor of clinical surgery and chief of high risk programs at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Dr. Freya Schnabel is an unlikely international real estate pioneer. But as one of the first buyers in Eden Hills — a planned community 15 minutes southwest of Jerusalem — Dr. Schnabel, who is 49, is emblematic of a new breed of visitor to Israel: the foreign vacation-home buyer.
Tel Aviv's Manhattan Makeover Indeed, from downtown Tel Aviv to the heart of Jerusalem, foreigners — especially Americans — searching for second homes are redefining Israel’s high-end real estate market. Part of Tel Aviv is, in fact, in the midst of a mini-Manhattan makeover with the recent arrival of New York-style residential projects designed by the likes of Philippe Starck and Richard Meier. Even Donald Trump has entered the Tel Aviv marketplace with plans for a 70-story residential and commercial tower — Israel’s highest — in the suburb of Ramat Gan.
For buyers like Dr. Schnabel and Dr. Josephs — who expect to move to Eden Hills by 2009 — rising prices and edged-out locals seem a world away from their still-pristine slice of ancient Judea. With homes ranging from $400,000 to well over a million, Eden Hills is priced to appeal to buyers accustomed to living among the parks, tennis courts, artificial lakes, bike trails and tree-lined pedestrian malls typical of high-end American subdivisions. Such attributes, along with numerous synagogues, are designed to lure Eden Hills’s wealthy, Orthodox American target audience — and keep them there.
Dr. Schnabel is already practicing for her new, part-time life in Israel with monthlong stays in Jerusalem apartments to gain a sense of the country off the typical tourist track. And Dr. Josephs is so bullish on Israel that he has bought four separate Eden Hills lots for himself and his children.
“I am actually thinking of Eden Hills as my primary residence,” Dr. Josephs said, adding that, eventually, “I will live in Israel, and then visit my second home — in New Jersey.”