ISTANBUL - Anatolia News Agency
Istanbul Governor Avni Mutlu (L) and Fatih Mayor Mustafa Demir (R). AA photo
A lottery for new housing in Fatih’s Sulukule neighborhood was held yesterday despite a recent Istanbul court ruling ordering a halt to construction of villas in the area, which is at the center of a contentious urban renewal scheme.
Defending the decision to hold the lottery, Fatih Mayor Mustafa Demir said: “This lottery is neither a lottery conducted in spite of the decision taken by Istanbul 4th Administrative Court nor an action made after that decision. Our lottery is a process which started months ago.”
The lottery was drawn for 575 residences and 56 commercial units.
The transformation project in the predominantly Roma neighborhood of Sulukule is “not beneficial to the public,” the court ruled June 14, adding that construction of new villas “must be stopped.” Many have criticized the project for allegedly forcing long-standing Roma residents out of their homes, which occupy valuable real estate.
“We take a leading role for Sulukule. We had to change the project 17 times due to the demands of landowners. We produced 28 types of houses that are different from each other. Urban transformation was implemented in Spain, France, Romania, and Poland. When compared to them, Sulukule can be considered a more developed project in terms of social and cultural factors and property rights. We are building a middle-sized Anatolian town at the moment,” the mayor said.
“Some 95 percent of the project has been completed. In September, we will deliver the houses to landowners. We will hopefully overcome the judicial process by that time,” he said, adding that his municipality would bring the Istanbul court’s decision to the Council of State.
“[The Istanbul court ruling] doesn’t affect Sulukule too much, because the Sulukule project is already over. All the houses are completed. Infrastructure work is being conducted now. There is no judicial decision which affects these infrastructure works. We think that Sulukule won’t be affected by this,” said Demir.
Demir said the municipality was also conducting urban renewal work six other areas of Fatih, including the Ayvansaray, Fener, Balat, Süleymaniye, Kapalıçarşı and Yalı neighborhoods.