Few buildings in the Beyoglu neighborhood have been more photographed than Birlik Apartman on Galipdede Street.
As waves of tourists saunter down from the street that connects Istiklal to Galata Tower, I stand on the balcony of a second floor flat in this landmark Istanbul property and chuckle to myself how many people stop to take a photo of this unique property. The pink facade may have a lot to do with it. But obviously its corner position, unique turn of the century Greek architecture, and its apparently triangular shape fire the imagination of the traveller. Despite being in need of a facelift (which the building management is actively seeking to bring about), the faded beauty of the property is undeniable.
Personally, I have had a long association with this Istanbul building, and was once even the manager for six months several years back. I have also sold, managed and rented a good number of apartments in the building. I have several friends in the building and visit there almost daily to get freshly squeezed orange juice from the bakkal on ground level (for a buck and some change).
I once even coordinated the shooting of a Coca Cola commercial from the fabulous terrace that offers arguably the best views in the city, where I witnessed a photogenic young American couple having their wedding bash on a night of unrivaled beauty. I hope the subsequent years went as well as that night did for them.
During my ten year association with this property, I have witnessed the flow of tourists rolling down the street on the way to the stout and formidable Galala tower of Italian inspiration, the most iconic monument of Istanbul.
The nearby shops, once exclusively selling musical instruments from electric guitars to ouds, balamas and the even more obscure music making devices, now has frisky cafes with specialty coffees, bespoke clothing stores, hostels, boutique hotels, and local eateries.
Music and instrument shops are still the mainstay, and expect to see and hear lots of impromptu music sessions that spill out onto the streets.
Of course, being so familiar with the area, I know the price history of the properties extremely well. I have seen them go from 1000 euro (per sqm) to 2000 and then to 3000 in the space of the last seven years or so. With excellent views, these prices are near enough double. The next stop for a property with sought after high ceilings, original features and good light seems inexorable; 4000 euro/sqm. Fully restored buildings with elevators, panoramic views and prestige seem set to crash the 8000 euro mark. The supply chain of these on the market is very light.
On the fourth floor of Birlik (walk up at the moment, though elevator shaft exists) we currently have a great property at a great price, it is on the market for 1.2 million TL (approximately 400,000 euro). The owner, an affable engineer, has been living in the property for over a decade, and is planning a move to the nearby Princess Islands. At 150 square meters, this property originally was a three bedroom. The owner thought it so spacious that he made it into two separate units, one of which he uses for living and the other as a rental. It could quite effortlessly be brought back to the original floor plan. A careful restoration would reveal vaulted ceilings, wall paintings and original wide plank wooden flooring. As if more were required, one side features partial views of the Bosphorus, while the other looks onto the Golden Horn; psychedelic! Please click here to view the property
The property itself is in excellent condition; however, to maximize rental income, which could reach 2000 euro plus, a modernization would be required, at an estimate 30,000 euro. This money would be well-spent, as it would put this property in another league on re-sell. Offers approaching 1.1 million have been made and the sale of the property seems imminent. The prime location, views and size make this a relative bargain and a much sought after property.
Despite all the hoopla in the neighborhood and for this building, one of the owners, a prominent Italian artist refers to it in mutevazi (humble) terms, as the little “Pembe Ev”, or the Pink House. Fair enough. I just hope they don’t change the color, pink being the perfect counterpoint to the gothic sublayer in Galata.