Israeli duo building apartments in Czechia: “Property development not a one man show”

Vojtěch Kristen

27. 04. 2020 • 19:20

If you want to fulfil your dream and invest in an extraordinary home, Doron Friedman and Daniel Aalsvel are the go-to people. The two Israeli businessmen have spent the last fifteen years turning neglected historical buildings in the centre of Prague into exclusive apartments. They take pride in weaving history with cutting-edge technologies and make every detail count. The size of the apartments ranges from small units to units with over 1000 sq m.

Do you fancy a private elevator straight to your penthouse, a private wine cellar, a private spa, and several terraces overlooking the Prague castle? And what about a concierge service that can take care of your shopping or walk your dog, and a gardener looking after the community’s common areas? And privacy – a lot of privacy?

We are standing together in front of their recent development project located right next to Prague’s Troja Chateau. You can still see the odd construction worker dashing from building to building but overall, the Chateau Troja Residence project is nearing its end. It will soon welcome its first tenants. “Most of them are Czech. The first customers who bought an apartment here were our neighbours from the Troja district.”

 “Headache-free” apartments

Apartments developed by Coast Capital Partners belong to the most refined on the market. High quality craftsmanship and attention to detail, such as unobtrusive music and fragrance in the common areas, are key. As is the fact that the apartments are “headache-free”. “When you look at our older projects, maybe even fifteen years old, they look as new,” say the businessmen. Quality and luxury come at a price, though: The remaining available apartments at Chateau Troja Residence start at CZK 13 million, and the highest priced penthouses have a 9-figure price tag.  “It is true that we are not for everybody. If you have five to ten million Czech crowns to invest in an apartment, I am sure you will be able to find a beautiful one; it just won’t be from us. If, on the other hand, you have dozens of millions at your disposal and want to live really well, I guarantee we have what you are looking for,” explains Daniel Aalsvel.

The two businessmen came to Prague shortly after the turn of the millennium. “I had bought my first building in Prague, in the Liliová street. It was in ruins, dilapidated, falling apart. A common acquaintance introduced us. Despite the state the house was in, Doron wanted to buy Liliová from me,” recalls Daniel. The deal didn’t work out but they remained friends. “I didn’t want to sell. My aim was not to quickly turn a profit. I had a big vision and wanted to see it through,” he adds. Daniel and Doron ended up working together and several years later joined forces.

Magical Prague

“When we first came to Prague, we immediately fell in love with the city. It had a magic to it that other cities lacked, and there were, understandably, quite a few opportunities here,” says Daniel, who goes on to describe how the founders’ philosophy influences the company’s market orientation. “Developers, in general, don’t like complicated projects. We seek them out. That means our activities are very demanding in terms of the technical aspects of the restoration, administration and financing but we believe the result is worth it. It has never been our dream to develop one-size-fits-all office space on the outskirts of a city,” explains Daniel.

One of the group’s most visible projects was the purchase of a historical building on Prague’s Old Town Square for more than half a billion Czech crowns several years ago. Other award-winning projects by the developer include the Kajetánka residential building from the 16th century or the renovation of the Jilská residential house in Prague’s Old Town district. By the way, the Jilská project can boast a 400 sq m apartment where writer Max Brod used to live.

“Our principal vision – and competitive advantage – is to provide added value to our clients. We are not in this business only for money, although making money also plays an important role. But if that were our number one priority, we would be doing easier projects. When we restore a house, it is not just another item on a laundry list that we check and move on. We have our own apartments and offices in those houses, so it is always personal for us. Every project is original and there is a lot of thinking and attention to detail that goes into every single project that we work on,” says Doron. He believes there are many companies in the Czech Republic whose modus operandi is to buy property for cheap, give it a quick fix and sell. “That is not our approach. We try to develop our projects in the literal sense of the word and to give back to the city.”

Buy with your heart

Doron and Daniel explain that buying in Troja is also an emotional purchase. They believe it is a good deal for both sides. “We create apartments for customers who want to fulfil their dream of exclusive living; for people who buy with their heart.” And, of course, for those who have money. Nonetheless, the duo claim that Prague is still a cheap capital city when compared to the West. “The apartments that we sell here for dozens of millions of Czech crowns would easily be sold for hundreds of millions of Czech crowns in London or Paris. So for a comparatively low price, you can have the same home billionaires in Western cities have,” say the businessmen. The Czech economy has been booming in recent years, which means there are increasingly more people who can afford this type of property.

For these buyers, there are two more things that are important in a home: security and privacy. CCP is well aware of that. “I think the importance of security and privacy will continue to grow,” says Daniel. “Prague has a huge advantage in this respect. According to many rankings, it belongs to the safest cities in the world. Both in terms of terror threats and in terms of health and other factors.”

Which brings us to another point: both businessmen personally know the vast majority of clients they sell their apartments to. On rare occasions, they may even reject a prospective client. “It has happened. There were problematic prospects we turned down,” explains Daniel. “If, despite this cautious approach, there is an issue in one of our communities, one of us personally sees to it that the problem is resolved. That’s another advantage of our company. We can take care of these things in person because we don’t have to spend our days running from one meeting to another, which is what happens at big companies,” add the businessmen, who also run projects in the US.

The American market and American customers are different. “Czechs are much more picky than Americans. Here in Prague, we sell most of the apartments as “shell and core”, i.e. the client can have the final design done according to their preferences. In the US, fully fitted apartments sell much better – it is faster and easier for the customer. Czechs, on the other hand, want to be part of their dream home, they want to give it a piece of themselves. It is a much more personal affair for you. With this understanding, we have created a system that allows the client to choose their own personalised design, which we then execute. I believe we are the only development company in Prague today that is able to offer and deliver such high level of service and finished product,” concludes Daniel.