Historic Istanbul grove sold to businessman implicated in graft
Gülistan Alagöz ISTANBUL / Hürriyet
Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality has denied reports that the grove was zoned for construction following the purchase.A historic grove on the Asian side of the Bosphorus was sold late last year to a businessman implicated in the Dec. 17, 2013, corruption scandal, daily Hürriyet has reported.
Mehmet Cengiz, the owner of Cengiz Construction, bought 65 percent of the Hüseyin Avni Paşa Grove in Istanbul’s Üsküdar district, from Turkey’s state-run Savings Deposit and Insurance Fund (TMSF). He bought the remaining 35 percent of the 81,511 square-meter plot from Erdem Holding.
The value of the land, which is considered to be among the most valuable pieces of real estate in Istanbul, was listed as “0” in the deed. Hürriyet columnist Professor Şükrü Kızılot, a tax expert, said it was normal to write “0” for the land value in a deed only when two plots are merged.
The TMSF had put the grove out to tender for 19,200,000 Turkish Liras, and Cengiz Construction won the bid with an offer of 31,690,132 liras in 2007. The company bought the remaining land from Erdem Holding for 20,752,325 liras in 2009 and then merged the land to register it as one plot.
The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality has denied reports that the grove was zoned for construction following the purchase, while Cengiz Construction has announced that the land is in the “frontal view” of the Bosphorus, meaning that it is protected. It said it made no attempt or file any request to develop the area.
Hüseyin Avni Paşa, who gave his name to the grove, was a 19th-century Ottoman statesmen who served in modern-day Bulgaria and Greece as a civil servant and military officer before his appointment as Ottoman chief of staff. He was murdered in June 1876, shortly after leading a coup d’etat.