Turkey's housing agency opens Istanbul’s coastal area to building without permission

Turkey's housing agency opens Istanbul’s coastal area to building without permission

Ömer Erbil ISTANBUL - Radikal
Turkeys housing agency opens Istanbul’s coastal area to building without permission

The coastal area in Ataköy was a green area only two years ago, as the above picture taken in 2012 shows. The second picture, which was taken this year, reveals the extent of the damage after the construction of residences started. Radikal photo

Turkey’s state-owned housing agency (TOKİ) has moved to open tenders and allowed construction on a historic Istanbul site, in total violation of the Coastal Law and without the consent of the cultural board responsible for giving the green light to such licenses, daily Radikal revealed on Jan. 23.

An area of 412,000 square meters, where the Baruthane residence area is located in Istanbul’s Bakırköy district, was handed over to TOKİ on Dec. 14, 2001, with a protocol signed between Emlakbank and TOKİ. The area was then declared to be an area of tourism and divided up into parts.

TOKİ defined these areas as places to build a shopping mall, hotel, petrol station, and residences, and said the height of the buildings could be 72 meters at most.

The construction will take place in the area where the Baruthane buildings and the İskender Çelebi Garden from the Ottoman era, as well as an old wall, are considered as cultural assets that need protection, according to a high council of monuments ruling dated 1956. 

In a 2012 document, the official protection board said its approval must be obtained for the restoration project for both inside and outside the Baruthane buildings. However, permissions have not sought for the construction in Baruthane, or for the rest of the area.

As TOKİ attempted to sell these areas several times, the court canceled some of these tenders. 

The constructions started in the area after it was sold and rented with TOKİ’s tender in 2009.

The Bosphorus investment company bought the 11,950-square-meter area for 65.7 million Turkish Liras in 2009. 

A nearby 59,799-square-meter area on the coast was rented to Çelebican A.Ş. for 49 years for 6 million liras. The rest of the area was given to Özyazıcı-Karadeniz Örme on condition of a share of profits.

However, the construction in the coastal area where a green area was located was criticized for failing to comply with the law. According to the Coastal Law, the construction on the coast should have started at least 50 meters away from the shore’s edge, but this was disregarded by the new constructions in the area. Some of the area on the shore line was also filled with land. 

Residences have been built in some of the sold areas and are now on sale by the Bosphorus firm for 2.6 million euros.