Luxurious apartments in limbo

Now, however, the marina dream has become a legal nightmare. Even though the apartments have been built and sold, the Tel Aviv District Court ruled in December that any apartment in a building that close to the shoreline is public property and must become part of a pool of "hotel-style rental apartments."

District Court Judge Uri Goren ruled that owners of the marina apartments will be forced to lease them for rental to the general public for at least part of the year. This is in keeping with the current position of the city of Herzliya and with the fact that the planning and construction permits were for a tourist project of holiday apartments.

The Goren decision was hailed by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, which had initiated the petition as part of its drive to preserve the coastline. However, it infuriated the construction companies that have sunk years of effort and hundreds of millions of dollars into the project. It also confused and frustrated the project's apartment owners.

Six separate appeals of the decision filed by the companies are currently before the Israeli Supreme Court, and more are expected to follow. In addition, the owners of apartments in the marina have filed their own Supreme Court petition.

Perhaps surprisingly, the units apparently are still selling. Real estate agent Eitan Blumberg, of Anglo-Saxon in Herzliya Pituach, says some of the legal events are actually encouraging, not discouraging, sales.

"What is going on in the courts makes it clear that there won't be much future building on the coastline, and anyone who wants to live on the beach had better buy now. And if people are going to be on the coast, the optimal place to be is in Herzliya Pituach and part of such an attractive project."