Parliament hands Istanbul’s lucrative ‘Finance Center’ project to AKP-run district
The lucrative 'Finance Center' project on Istanbul's Asian side is expected to gather the headquarters of many banks and financial institutions.The Turkish Parliament approved Sept. 9 a new legal arrangement redrawing the boundaries of two Asian-side districts as part of a new omnibus bill.
The law effectively transfers the Barbaros neighborhood, where the lucrative “Finance Center” project is being built, from the Ataşehir Municipality, which is in the hands of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), to the ruling Justice and Development Party-run (AKP) Ümraniye.
Government officials have argued that they intended to define the limits between the two municipalities according to two highways crossing them.
However, the opposition has suggested that the change was made after a demand from the contractor company, Ağaoğlu İnşaat, whose owner, Ali Ağaoğlu, is known for his closeness to the government.
Litigation began when residents of a neighboring housing complex filed a complaint after Ağaoğlu İnşaat used explosives on the construction site.
The Istanbul Governor’s Office said the complaint should be conveyed to the municipality of Ataşehir, but the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality told them that the relevant municipality was Ümraniye. In the meantime, the company continued to use explosives, arguing that the task was being conducted by a specialist firm and monitored by a university.
Environment and Urban Planning Minister İdris Güllüce said the new arrangement was not "changing" the boundaries, but "defining" them. “We have only re-described the limits,” Güllüce said.
‘Trillions’ worth of profit’
However, opposition lawmakers were not of the same opinion. Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Hasip Kaplan claimed the move would provide trillions of liras’ worth of unearned profits.
For its part, the CHP accused the AKP of seeking ways to further enrich Ağaoğlu, a figure who often invites scorn due to his maverick ways and disregard for the environment.
The eccentric constructor has several residential complexes in the area, mostly aimed at middle-upmarket families.