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Doron Aviv was very excited Monday. It was clear that he is not used to public appearances in front of television cameras and the poised pens of journalists. He seemed a bit embarrassed by the whole event marking the inauguration of the Moshe Aviv Tower, named after Doron's late father, who initiated the project.

Still, in all the excitement, Aviv did not lose his sense of humor.

"This video clip was filmed for us by Channel 10," said Aviv at start of the screening of a film depicting the building process of the Moshe Aviv Tower at the corner of Abba Hillel Silver and Jabotinsky streets in Ramat Gan. For anyone who does not know the details, Ocif, which is controlled by Aviv, lost heavily on its investment in Channel 10.

Apropos Channel 10, one of the channel's stars, news presenter Yaakov Eilon, who narrates the film, recently purchased an apartment in the tower. Aviv has also purchased an apartment there, as has his PR manager, Ran Rahav. The identities of the other buyers are as yet classified, and for anyone who wants to be their neighbor and enjoy a panoramic view from a height of over 200 meters (650 feet), there are still some unsold units.

"The tallest tower in the Middle East," which was supposed to have been called Sha'ar Ha'ir (City Gate), due to its location, is now named after Moshe Aviv, who died in an accident about two years ago.

The project, most of which has been sold, is being undertaken by Aviv (25 percent) and Ocif (75 percent), both of which are controlled by Doron Aviv and Dafna Harlev, Moshe Aviv's son and daughter.

The tower took over five years to build. "The construction required a combination of various technologies imported from Europe and the United States," says Aviv. "We had to cope with many complex logistical problems, some of which required innovative solutions that we developed ourselves."

Office and residential too

One of the interesting innovations in the project is the combination of offices and residential apartments on some of the tower's upper floors. The residential floors are from the 55th to 66th stories, which house 98 apartments ranging in size from 60 square meters (650 square feet) to large penthouses of up to 350 square meters (3,780 square feet). Last week a 170 square-meter apartment sold for $700,000, although Aviv says that the average price of the apartments is $3,000 per square meter.

"The city was looking for a solution that would keep the area bustling with activity even after office hours," explains Aviv. "This type of tower exists mainly in Manhattan and this is the first tower in Israel that offers offices alongside residential apartments."

This division required unique solutions, such as a separate entrance for the residential floors, so that the residents would not feel as if they were living in an office tower. The roof of the tower, on the 69th floor, is designed to serve as an emergency helicopter landing pad, and the safety railing can be opened when a helicopter approaches.

Some 5,000 people are expected to enter and leave the building daily. They will use 24 elevators that move between the floors at a speed of 6 meters per second. The developers made a total investment of $133 million, an almost unprecedented figure for an office tower project in Israel.

Construction began about six years ago and was completed over the past few months. Close to 95 percent of the office space has been sold, with the main buyers being United Mizrahi Bank, which has transferred its main offices to the tower, the Ofer Brothers Group and Alony-Hetz Properties and Investments. So far Ocif has reported accumulated profits of NIS 87 million from the project, with total projected profits approaching $30 million.

The old Epstein used car lot

The Moshe Aviv tower was initially planned as a 25-story building. The first plot of land, purchased by Aviv in early 1995, covered 4.7 dunams and was a used car lot owned by a man called Epstein. The second land deal, also signed in 1995, was for an adjacent plot of 4.5 dunams and led to the expansion of the plans for the current tower. The joining of the two plots of land facilitated the rezoning of the land from residential to residential-and-office and allowed a tower up to 50 stories high.

About a year later Aviv began negotiating for the purchase of two additional adjacent lots - one owned by Teva Pharmaceutical and the Ramat Gan municipality, and the second owned by Yedidya Cohen and Givat Marom. After the transfer of the construction rights from the other two lots, the allowable height of the building rose to 66 stories. A fourth land deal, for another adjacent plot, allowed Aviv to add two more floors to the tower, so that including the technical floors, the tower is 69 stories tall. For the sake of comparison, the Azrieli Towers buildings in Tel Aviv are 50 and 40 stories high.

The tower, designed by architects Amnon Niv and Amnon Schwartz of Amav Planning, rises 235 meters above street level and 252.5 meters above sea level. It includes 53,870 square meters of offices, 1,671 meters of commercial space and 49,600 square meters of built up space for parking. There are separate entrances for the residents of the upper floors and for the offices.

Moshe Aviv Tower is close to other projects, such as the Sheraton City Tower, a hotel tower whose upper floors are residential apartments, and the Gibor Sport office tower. Additional office towers are in the immediate vicinity.

The Moshe Aviv Tower will not be alone at its height for long. On the other side of the intersection, where Elite Industries offices are currently located, construction of a 65-story tower will soon get underway. Elite, which owns the land, and Ocif, are currently negotiating to build the project in partnership.

Moshe Aviv Tower - facts and figures

Height: 235 meters above street level and 252.5 meters above sea level (the tallest building in the Middle East and the second tallest in Europe)

View from the top floors: North - Carmel mountains. East - Judean Hills. South - Rishon Letzion. West - the coastline from Hadera to Ashdod

Cost of construction: $133 million

Office space: 53,870 square meters

Commercial space: 1,671 square meters

Parking space: 49,600 square meters

Number of stories: 69

Number of apartments: 98

Number of elevators: 24

Non-stop travel time from lobby to 66th floor: 45 seconds

Number of parking levels: 10

Office floors: 6-54

Residential floors: 55-66

Air-conditioning system floors: 67-68

Building's weight: 160,000 tons

Total length of water pipes: 15 kilometers

Total length of air-conditioning ducts: 40 kilometers

Number of people who will occupy the building daily: 5,000

Average space per person in offices: 20 square meters

Size of smallest apartment: 60 square meters; cost: $212,000

Size of largest apartment: 350 square meters; cost: $1.25 million

Rate of construction of superstructure: 4 floors per month

Output of air conditioners: 3,000 tons of cooling (equivalent to 750 4.5-horsepower split air conditioners)

Sway in any direction during an earthquake: 40 centimeters