Aby Rosen recently opened his long-in-the-works Tel Aviv hotel.
The RFR Realty chief converted a 19th-century former hospital he bought in the old city of Jaffa 13 years ago into what he sees as an oasis in the fast-paced city.
“Israel is very hectic,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “The goal is to take the speed out.”
Rosen fell in love with the building’s architectural features: columns, arched ceilings and stained-glass windows.
But work on the project crawled along, and at one point a 13th-century Saracen wall fragment was even uncovered during excavations.
“I have to admire Aby for hanging in there,” said project designer John Pawson. “I’m not sure many others would.”
The project opened August 20, and alongside the project’s 120 hotel rooms, it has 32 residences.
Rosen, who vacationed in Israel as a child, brought in New York’s Major Food Group to oversee the food-and-beverage component, which includes a classic Jewish deli.
“You have the tuna melt, and you just die,” he said.
Rosen faced backlash in 2010 when a group of protestors organized by the Central Rabbinical Congress of the United States and Canada gathered outside the developer’s headquarters at 390 Park Avenue. They claimed his Tel Aviv hotel project dug into an ancient Jewish Graveyard.