US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides moved into a sleekly renovated villa in west Jerusalem’s leafy German Colony sometime last spring.
Local real estate agents estimate its value at around $23 million, and its owner and the embassy confirmed it is being leased as the U.S. envoy’s official residence.
Emek Refaim Street is the latest stop for the American ambassador’s home on a more than three-year migration from the seaside cliffs north of Tel Aviv. Nides initially moved into the Waldorf Astoria in Jerusalem, a tony enough address but not living quarters suited for entertaining. Sometime this past spring, he moved to the property in the German Colony, one of the most sought-after neighborhoods in Jerusalem.
The U.S. is leasing it and has notified Israel that the property will be the official residence for the American envoy, according to the embassy. Other terms of the arrangement have not been made public, but there are no plans to move the ambassador to another site. Officials from both countries, as well as the owner, declined to comment on the property’s value or its monthly rent.
If the intent was to keep the residence low-profile, that’s over too. On June 8, Nides tweeted a photo from his “new neighborhood coffee shop in the German colony.” His residence is surrounded by a tall white fence and dotted with security cameras. Guards can often be seen, according to local shop owners. When a gate opens, looky-loos can catch glimpses of a parking area and courtyard.
My new neighborhood coffee shop in the German colony. The Ronen brothers got me working today. Thanks Daniel & Michael!
— Ambassador Tom Nides (@USAmbIsrael) June 8, 2022
Arielle Cohen, legal counsel for the owner, Blue Marble Ltd., doesn’t dispute local reports that the company spent 50 million shekels (about $14.5 million) on the historic restoration. Her father, Avi Ruimi, grew up in the German Colony and founded the company, which specializes in historic restorations and owns several other addresses on the street.
Blue Marble bought the property in 2004. Construction lasted six years and finished in 2020, as it became clear that the U.S. ambassador would need a new home.
“We knew it was a possibility,” Cohen said in an interview. She declined to comment on the signing process but called the contract a “wonderful milestone.” She said the residence itself is about 570 square meters (about 6,000 square feet) with a second building that roughly doubles the size.
A gallery on the company’s website says one building includes two apartments and commercial space. The second is “a beautiful private villa.” A portfolio on Blue Marble’s web site shows a sleekly renovated interior, with a modern kitchen, fixtures and high ceilings.