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Abdi İpekçi Avenue to be new Champs Elysee

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News | 9/3/2010 12:00:00 AM | İPEK EMEKSİZ

Istanbul’s Abdi İpekçi Avenue is to be the new Champs Elysee thanks to the Nişantası-Teşvikiye urban design project

Istanbul’s Abdi İpekçi Avenue is to be the new Champs Elysee thanks to a Nişantası-Teşvikiye urban design project that will see wider pavements and more space for chic restaurants and luxury retail shopping venues.

In a bid to draw more customers to the fashionable street, the Şişli Municipality has said that visual pollution will be eradicated. Officials said they would decorate the new pavement after they narrow the road to a single-lane thoroughfare. They plan to use granite cubes specially produced in Bergama, a district of İzmir province in western Turkey. They also foresee property values increasing by up to 50 percent.

Municipal authorities examined various distinguished streets of Europe in their quest to design the best experience for the area’s pedestrians and shoppers. With its transformation, Abdi İpekçi Avenue is poised to breaking real estate records in Europe, according to the municipality.

The renovation of the prestigious street will cost the Şişli Municipality 700,000 Turkish Liras and will spark cultural activities in the region as well. “Turkey’s leading businesses will benefit from the wide pavement by opening their own cafes,” a municipal official said, pointing to upcoming plans for upscale retail stores on the street.

Exhibitions, fashion shows and concerts will take place along the street in addition to street parties for special days such as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. “As the heart of fashion beats in Abdi İpekçi, we want to draw people’s interest here,” a municipal representative said. The municipality is dedicated to protecting the status of the street and the comfort of residents while transforming the area’s urban footprint.

Business owners who have invested millions in their Abdi İpekçi retail presence said this project was especially significant for Istanbul’s representation to foreign tourists. Anticipating that this project will contribute to the city’s commerce and bring a lively atmosphere to the neighborhood, some have even begun to enlarge their shops.

“We have made substantial investments. First of all, the store we opened is 3,570 square meters and includes restaurants and boutique stores within,” said Çetin Sayan, the manager of Salvatore Ferragamo, located on Abdi İpekçi Avenue. “In addition, we recently bought the building of the old Maçka Hotel and we plan to do wonderful things with it.”

Restaurant and café owners are also content with the changes that Abdi İpekçi is undergoing, as they will be able to serve their customers outside year round and be able to set out more tables. According to the municipality, restaurants that were able to set out 10 tables in the past will be able to set out 25 now thanks to the broadening of the sidewalks.

“Mustafa Sarıgül [the mayor of Şişli Municipality] will serve as a model for Istanbul’s districts with this project,” said Bülent Yetkin, the manager of Midpoint restaurant. “I have been running a business in Nişantaşı since 1996, I know the worst times. With this project, I believe brilliant things can be done here in the long run.”

The municipality bans on-street parking but said it would provide a covered, 650-car parking lot nearby so that customers could be met by their private chauffeurs after their shopping is finished. Nevertheless, there is controversy from the storeowners over how beneficial it will be to condense traffic into a single lane.

“In fact, it is good that cars will not park on the side of the streets any more given that traffic was a major problem. But the customers of Nişantası have the comfort of going shopping by parking their cars in front of the stores,” said Hazal Acar, one of the owners of Valentino and Roberto Cavalli, located opposite each other on Abdi İpekci Avenue.

On the other hand, Salvatore Ferragamo, which provides a private parking lot for its customers, thinks that the large parking lot to be opened would be an efficient solution. “There won’t be waiting on the street anymore as the road will be condensed into a single lane,” said Çetin Sayan, supporting Sarıgül’s idea of making a comfortable walk for pedestrians.

Within the scope of the project, the same renovation procedures will be applied to Mim Kemal Street, which runs parallel to Abdi İpekçi, and Atiye Street is to be closed to traffic.

An official from Max Mara, located in part on Atiye Street, said restaurants should pay attention to not obscuring the display windows of apparel stores. “I don’t know whether this will work in favor of or against the stores. If the storefronts are obscured [by the crowded restaurants], interest will diminish and people will not see the display windows comfortably,” said the official, who preferred to be anonymous.

Some storeowners said they wanted the project to be completed ion quickly due to the noise and the dust carried by the wind, yet they are aware that they cannot get good results without patience. For others, the rush is about catching up with the latest fashion events. “Our only concern is how fast the constructions process will take. Vogue will prepare Fashion’s Night Out on Sept. 16 here. Whether it will be ready by then, I don’t know,” said Acar.

The construction started two weeks ago on Abdi İpekçi Avenue and is to be finished at the end of September, according to the municipality. Currently 50 construction workers are working 14 hours a day so that the area’s residents will not be bothered for a long period.

İbrahim Ünsal, who has lived on Abdi İpekçi Avenue since his childhood, said he would be very satisfied with the project after it is finished. “In the last few years, traffic has polluted this street tremendously. I believe this project will provide benefit to the area’s residents,” said Ünsal. He said residents are happy the project will bring an aesthetic look to the area.

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