Municipality sweetens sale of disputed land

Municipality sweetens sale of disputed land

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Municipality sweetens sale of disputed land

The sale of the 46,000 square meter plot in the business center of Istanbul, where many high-rise buildings have been erected, to Sama Dubai failed due to legal challenges. DAILY NEWS photo, Hasan ALTINIŞIK

The Istanbul municipality has reapproved and sweetened a 2006 deal to sell a vvaluable lot in the heart of Istanbul, which is covered with many business centers. The land was sold in 2007 to a Dubai sheik, who later withdrew finalizing the procedure as the decision of the municpality to to raise the height and qualifications of a possible building there was taken to court. 

The sale of the 46,000 square meter plot belonging to the Istanbul Public Transport Authority (İETT) in the Şişli district to Sama Dubai, the property arm of Dubai Holding owned by Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, could not be finalized due to legal challenges.

The City Planners and Civil Engineers chambers challenged the sale in 2006 after the municipality agreed to alter the master plan for the plot and allow al-Maktoum to build taller buildings on the site than had previously been allowed.

A lower court gave a ruling against the chambers. And following the Council of State’s decision to approve the ruling of the court, the municipality sweetened the pot late on Feb. 14, adopting a decision to set no limit on the height of the premises on the plot.

According to the final plan, daily Hürriyet reported, the lot will be used for both tourism and trade purposes and will include a hotel, business center, residence, offices, shopping center and restaurants. The business center may feature banks and financial institutions. The additional arrangements in the master plan allow up to a 135,000 square meters of premises to be constructed.

Dubai grows due trade
Meanwhile, Dubai’s economy will continue to grow in 2012 despite a persistent contraction in its once rapidly-booming construction sector thanks to healthy trade and tourism, an official and economists said yesterday.

Growth in the gross domestic product of the debt-laden emirate is “expected to be over 4.5 percent this year,” said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum, the head of the Dubai Economic Sector Committee.

The forecast by Dubai’s Department of Economic Development (DED) is also around 4.1 percent for 2012.

This is a “respectable rate” driven by over 6 percent growth in tourism, and similar rates in trade and manufacturing, in addition to transport, said DED chief economist Mohammad Lahouel.

The growth will continue “despite a continued decline in construction,” he said at the Dubai Economic Outlook 2012 forum.

Lahouel said the final figures on GDP growth achieved in 2011 were not out, though he expected they should be around 3 percent – a “little bit over the 2 percent” achieved in 2010.

Standard Chartered’s Marios Maratheftis agreed with the positive outlook for Dubai, but he put the forecast for the growth rate in 2012 at 2.4 percent.

“We think it is good given that 2011 was a good year,” said Maratheftis, the bank’s head of research for the western hemisphere.

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