After solving the living needs of thousands of millennials in New York and Washington, communal workspace company WeWork is about to launch a communal housing project in Tel Aviv as well.
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The project is a joint venture between the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality, WeWork and the Azrieli Group, and will be situated within the Azrieli Town complex near the existing Azrieli Towers (on the citys eastern border). Office space will still play a key role in the new project, with a 45-story office building set to be built next to a residential tower containing 215 apartments. Both towers will also contain commercial spaces, and construction on the project is scheduled to be completed by 2020.
The joint venture is based on the WeLive joint-living model created by WeWork, which is already up and running in two buildings in the United States (in Washington and New York, respectively).
Its based on the concept previously developed by the company in its shared workspaces, consisting of high-quality services and the creation of a community. The new communal design will offer not only small housing units, but also invest in the development of communal areas such as living rooms, guest rooms, kitchens, gyms, laundromats and terraces.
WeLive also offers a communications system that aims to offer efficient management services and interaction between the various bodies operating in the building and the needs of tenants. For example, members of the community can collectively hold events for children; host dinner parties in which many guests can be invited; provide babysitting services; or even turn on or turn off electrical appliances that people forget about in their apartments.
The young folk
Headed by Israeli-American billionaire Adam Neumann, WeWork has become a huge Israeli success story in recent years and is now valued at $20 billion.
More than a year ago, we started developing models for communal living and we put out a call for attracting different ideas, said Orly Erel, head of planning at the Tel Aviv Municipality. One segment of the population where we located a need for such services was young people – usually university graduates who want to live in the city but cannot compete for spaces in university dormitories. The idea is to build smaller and cheaper apartments for these people.
Models of communal and cooperative living could be the answer, as well as projects involving tearing down older buildings and rebuilding on the same sites, as well as using the master plan for reinforcing and renovating existing buildings, she said. The main idea is to combine small living spaces with a large communal kitchen area, as well as communal showers, laundry areas, etc. This brings construction costs down and creates a rich communal life. And Tel Aviv needs to create a range of solutions, like this one.
One project already up and running comes from Venn, a young real estate company that is working with Carasso Real Estate in Tel Avivs Shapira neighborhood. Venn rents out small housing units to young people, as well as providing management services. It currently manages 25 such apartments, located in seven buildings.
Similar to the WeLive agenda, the objective of the Venn project is to provide an economically fair living environment – one that encourages business and social initiatives, while building a network of relationships between community members.
However, there is some criticism of the project due to the fact that while the apartments are indeed cheaper than those located in the city center, they actually raise prices in the neighborhood, with the whole project allegedly driven only by considerations of profitability and nothing else.