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Beşiktaş Akaretler Sıravler project - Old depot turns into luxury hotel
1.       Roswitha
4132 posts
 06 Apr 2008 Sun 04:25 pm

URBAN TRANSFORMATION: One of Istanbul's biggest districts Beşiktaş is facing a rapid urban transformation. The old tobacco factory located right at the harbor seen with scaffolding will be turned into a seven-star luxury hotel.

One of Istanbul’s largest districts, Beşiktaş is facing a rapid urban transformation. Following the Akaretler Sıravler project, an old tobacco depot will be turned into a seven-star luxury hotel. Owners of small shops in Beşiktaş and students fear being estranged

Beşiktaş Mayor İsmail Ãœnal The municipality aims to carry out all these works by taking all people's views and contributions into consideration. We have always worked according to this approach since we took office.

Tayfun Kahraman, Secretary General of the Chamber of Urban Planners In terms of urban planning rules, the works in Beşiktaş are not the worst. A demographic change is unavoidable and the newly created space will not be one in which students or people from low-income backgrounds can live.

Beginning in the 1950s, cities have grown rapidly and great changes have occurred in urban areas. One of Europe's largest cities, Istanbul, with a population that exceeds the population of many European Union countries, is no stranger to this growth and change.

The demographic structure and face of the city's districts have been transformed – sometimes in the name of urban planning, sometimes as a part of development projects.

One of Istanbul's largest districts, Beşiktaş, located on the European side of the city on the Bosporus coast, is one of the areas experiencing this rapid transformation.

The urban planning works carried out throughout the district by the Beşiktaş Municipality and supported by the Greater Istanbul Municipality have been criticized by experts and have been met with concern by shopkeepers and residents.

The changes around the district can be seen mainly in the continuing works around Beşiktaş Square with newly laid tiles, the public bazaar area left empty following its demolition, restored harbor buildings for intercity boat lines and finally the conversion of the old tobacco depot into a seven-star luxury hotel, still under construction and covered in scaffolding.

But the transformation efforts attracted attention after the municipality teams, as part of the Beşiktaş Square Harmonization Project, demolished the 23-year-old local public bazaar on Aug. 1, 2007. It its place are brand new tiles on the floor and a few trees.

In terms of urban planning rules, the works in Beşiktaş are not the worst, according to the secretary general of the Chamber of Urban Planners, Tayfun Kahraman. However, a demographic change is unavoidable and the newly created space will not be one in which students or people from low-income backgrounds can live.

Nevertheless, the municipality aims to carry out all these works by taking all people's views and contributions into consideration, Beşiktaş Mayor İsmail Ãœnal told the Turkish Daily News. “We have always worked according to this approach since we took office,” he said.

Whenever rumors of relocating one of the universities circulated, students from that university would begin talking about moving into the depot and dreamed of studying there.

“I started thinking that Beşiktaş was on an irreversible path when I saw the old tobacco depot covered in scaffolding,” said Murat Yalçıntan, assistant professor at Mimar Sinan University's urban planning department, who has written extensively on the issue.

“Probably urged by an emotional outbreak,” Yalçıntan said in one of his articles about the ongoing planning work, “I wrote a scenario about what will happen in our district.”

According to his scenario, the area surrounding the hotel will be given to private businesses. Further, the tea garden opposite the hotel will perish with Adnan, the owner of the little teahouse by the sea. Buildings that have been used for administrative or cultural purposes will be converted into restaurants, bars and cafes, the prices of which will be astronomic. Therefore, the residents of Beşiktaş will not even come close to these places, he said.

As Yalçıntan's scenario unfolds, the traders in the district, particularly those who have shops around the square, are similarly concerned. Many experts, as well as the residents of Beşiktaş, feel like they are somehow being excluded from this transformation process and the way their district turns out will make it impossible for them to live there.

“There will be luxury hotels, private universities, expensive bars and restaurants and big shopping malls. Maybe the municipality will not remove us from here, but among these strong rivals we do not know how much of a chance we have,” said Murtaza Sarıça, a shop owner who has worked and lived in Beşiktaş for 15 years.

Beşiktaş has always been a student district. Since the campuses of eight universities are located in Beşiktaş, students prefer to live close by. Moreover, there are those who do not want to leave their favorite areas, bars, or neighbors and want to continue living in Beşiktaş. All these factors make Beşiktaş a colorful area and more people enjoy spending their time here. The district has always suited people of low- and middle-income backgrounds, however, the new project seems extreme to them and is creating concerns.

“I have seen the project once. A plain, tiled urban center, little green islands, no traffic flowing,” said Besime Şen, from Mimar Sinan University's urban planning department. Şen is also one of the experts who believe this transformation will cause a demographic change in the district and who believe the district is being redesigned for high-income groups. “People with low incomes, students, and the small traders are being estranged,” she said.

Şen also warned the municipality about cities that are always replicas of each other and that this is not a social, but a mistaken commercial project. “They are copying each other and each city becomes assimilated.”

Public areas are decomposing and this creates inequalities, which leads to conflict between the social classes, according to Şen. “The ways these projects are undertaken only shifts the problems but can never solve them.”

“We would like to highlight that most of the concerns that came up with this report are made of mere speculations,” said Ãœnal. “Bahçeşehir University continues to operate in the buildings as a tenant of the state. The works continuing in the Sıraevler houses in Akaretler and the tobacco depot in the square are undertaken in accordance with the decisions of the Supreme Commission for Protecting Cultural and Natural Assets. Apart from these subjects, the rest of the arguments are not on the agenda and all are speculative.”

“With all the historical and cultural assets, our district should be considered a very special part of metropolitan planning,” Ünal told the TDN.

Looking at it today, Beşiktaş is an area with few construction works and can be considered as complete in its development, even if some parts are worn out, he said. The areas open for new development are limited, he said, and its historical structures are registered and declared protected sites.

Ãœnal noted that the transformation will occur within the current construction conditions and on an aesthetic basis.

Responding to the concerns of local traders, Ãœnal said that precautions should be taken to maintain the liveliness of commercial development and retailers' operations.

2.       KeithL
1455 posts
 06 Apr 2008 Sun 04:30 pm

I can't imagine them putting a luxury hoyel here. It's right at the Kadıkoy Ferry. The traffic in the little area off Barbaros is horrible! I can't think of a worse location to put a hotel.

3.       Roswitha
4132 posts
 06 Apr 2008 Sun 04:32 pm

Geld regiert die Welt,Keith. Schrecklich.

4.       KeithL
1455 posts
 06 Apr 2008 Sun 04:35 pm

so true, so true...

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