the center shifts southward
Not long ago Ashkleon was considered a small, insignificant town in Israel's southern periphery. This perception is still prevalent among many Israelis from Tel Aviv northward. The reality however is changing rapidly.
When I came to Israel on a pre-aliyah pilot trip in the spring of 2011 I could not understand the justification for the massive price differential between Ashkleon and other coastal cities. Here was a lovely city with new infrastructure, beautiful beaches and comparatively low population density (have you been to Bat Yam lately?) situated only 45 kilometers south of Tel Aviv. On Shabbat it takes me less than an hour to drive to my cousins' house in Herzliya. As a non-native Israeli I suffered no preconceptions about Ashkleon and made a reasoned and logical decision to settle here. The thought process which informed my decision has been vindicated.
Shortly after I arrived on aliyah the Transportation Ministry commenced a massive project to expand Highway 4 north of Ashdod from two to three lanes in each direction. As I type this bulldozers are busy expanding the last section of Highway 3 which links Ashkleon to the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway at Latrun. Shortly one will be able to drive from
Ashkelon to Latrun/Modi'in on a new, wide four-lane road uncongested by heavy traffic. The last major road project necessary to connect Ashkelon to the center will be the expansion of Highway 4 north to Ashdod. It is inevitable.
Meanwhile, as the transportation infrastructure moves Ashkleon toward the center, the center is shifting southward toward Ashkeon. Today The Marker reports that the relevant bureaucracies have approved development plans for a one-thousand dunam business park in Rishon LeTziyon just west of the Ayalon Freeway. They're calling it "the furure business center of Israel" and it lies wihin a thirty-minute commute of Ashkelon were real estate prices are forty percent lower. FORTY PERCENT. No exaggeration.
The new business park is approved for 1.7 million square meters of commercial space and 5,500 residential units. Land tenders for developers are expected to commence in the coming weeks. Read the article here (Hebrew): http://www.themarker.com/realestate/1.2876495
Update: Globes English picked up the story: http://www.globes.co.il/en/article-huge-rishon-lezion-project-given-green-light-1001108894
Update: "Rishon LeTziyon Industrial Zone to Double in Size" Globes English: http://www.globes.co.il/en/article-rishon-lezion-industrial-zone-to-double-in-size-1001109976