A wave of shop closures in the family-friendly Basel neighborhood has led to a flurry of fashion designers honing in on the leases. Will the transition change the character of the neighborhood or will it simply drive its residents to spend some more money?
By Ruth Perl Baharir
Maayan Paz, ATA, and Dorin Frankfurt - all of them opened branches in the Basel neighborhood in recent months. They are joined by Nadav Rosenberg the owner of Northern Star, who plans to inaugurate the brand's new branch next month. But what attracts everyone to this particular area? "I strongly dislike all those shopping compounds," says fashion designer Maayan Paz who opened her new branch, located on Basel Street, four months ago. "But this area maintains a very high standard in many areas," she says, "There's the neighborhood delicatessen and a nail salon, which is very high quality, and it manages to maintain its character thanks to the residents of a high socioeconomic class."
The designer and owner of Northern Star, Nadav Rosenberg, who is also a close friend of Paz's, says, "I just think that it's a pleasant place for people to go. I love Tel Aviv, but there are lots of places that have become very touristy. I hang out with my partner on a Saturday morning and we feel like tourists in our city. In Basel there is something that still feels like an accessible Tel Aviv. It's a real neighborhood atmosphere."
A few steps from Rosenberg's future shop on HaShla Street, the third branch of ATA was opened last month. When asked why they chose to build the new branch in Basel, the creative director of the brand, Yael Shenberger, replied: "We simply like the people, there are flower shops, there's a complex, no parking lots, lots of cafes. There's life there. I feel that it is really like an Old Tel Avivian neighborhood "
In contrast, what attracted Dorin Frankfurt to the complex was the property itself, a cube-shaped shop that would serve as a showcase for the changing collections that are also available for sale on the brand's online store. The realization that she happened to be in the right place came only after the fact. "Unlike so many things in life, we won the jackpot," she says. "The area is very connected to its idea. What's beautiful about Basel is that it's a real neighborhood."
Uri Lehavi, the head of the brand Daniella Lehavi, which his late mother founded, agrees. In fact, his mother set up her first shop in the compound 17 years ago, long before it became an area of yuppies. Lehavi is well aware of the changes that the region has undergone over the years and understands the designers' attraction. "When we opened the store back in 2001, there was a jewelry designer named Shay Lahover and the Basel Cafe, where old ladies with purple hair and tons of hair spray were regulars."
Even though all of Tel Aviv knows the Basel neighborhood, Lehavi insists that this is still a semi-secret gem. "It does not connect to any main street and there are not many people in it, you have to know where to go in order to get in - and that's what has kept it the way it is, unlike Sheinkin Street, which used to be a street for Tel Avivians, but everyone got sick of it. I really hope Basel won't change and turn into a trendy place. There's magic in it that I do not want to be touched. "