The Grandfather of Galipdede Street – an Istanbul Real Estate landmark.

Few buildings in the Beyoglu neighborhood have been more photographed than Birlik Apartman on Galipdede Street.

The Pink One

The Pink One

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).

To die for?

To die for view ?

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.

to die for 2

to die for 2

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.

Tin Pan Alley

Tin Pan Alley

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.

Local cafe scene

Local cafe scene

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.

The Zorlu Center: Luxury capital of Istanbul setting the pace

Everybody in Istanbul has now become acquainted with the famous Zorlu Center, a massive development in the shadow of the Bosphorous Bridge.


It’s got everything!

The multiple award winning project is the epitome of a city within the city. It is perhaps the leading mixed use project in all of Europe, having first class office space, residential penthouses and sprawling fitness and spa, upscale shopping center with top class restaurants, a Raffles Hotel and the high profile performing arts center with a capacity of 3500 people that is hosting big name concerts with even bigger ticket prices. It is in many ways, the playground for ultra-wealthy individuals from Istanbul and, in fact, the world.

The prices, naturally, reflect this. Starting at 14,000USD/square meter, the properties with the best views are commanding upwards of 20,000USD/square meter. It is by far the most expensive high rise property in Istanbul, eclipsing Armani Macka and Saphire by 30-40%.

NY Times article

Wealthy sheikhs from the GCC, Turkish textile giants and reportedly even Jennifer Lopez are amongst the owners of these properties.

J Lo - better than a picture of concrete

Typical owner, seen at the local laundrette

Previously, the Kanyon was considered to be the place to go to eat, drink and kick back in the bustling Levent area. Now it seems everybody is going to the Zorlu Center to while away their Sunday afternoons.

Mr. Ahmet Zorlu, Director of the Board of Management of the Zorlu Holding said: “We will realize our Zorlu Center, project the first and only 5-functions mixed use project of Turkey, and present it to Turkish people who have always trusted us. Zorlu Center, with no match in Europe, will further increase İstanbul’s rapidly rising value in the world”.

Found one

the Barbican has a lot to answer for

Big words for a big project, which has an estimated total value in the 2.5 billion USD range. Double take on that number; it is hard to comprehend. The land value when the ambitious Mr. Zorlu bought it back in 2007 was 800 million USD, an absolutely jaw dropping and record breaking number at that time.

and another

I’m looking forward to buying stuff there.

The sales staff say that 70% of the residential units have been sold not long after the official opening of the Center.





Some of the shopping and dining highlights:

-Beymen 10,000 sqm store

-The first Apple center in Turkey

-Vakko has opened a two floor extravaganza devoted to luxury.

- Morini restaurant, owned by the AltaMarea Group, one of NY’s leading restaurant groups with Michelin-rated Marea and Ai Fiori.

.-Other notables include: Moncler, Bvlgari, Pomellato, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Lanvin, Dior, Miu Miu, Burberry (adult and kids), Tory Burch, Michael Kors, and Valentino, and more great dining:  Eataly, Jamie’s Kitchen, and Tom’s Kitchen.

All of this makes for a pretty potent mix. It is also well-connected to the Metro, so it is capable of bringing in the crowds. There are a few mid-priced local brands and retsaurants that the average consumer will be able to afford, so it seems likely that Zorlu will achieve its aim of becoming something of a new city center. It no doubt has raised the profile of luxury projects in Istanbul and probably will get mentioned in the same breath as Burj-Al Arab, Khalifa Towers, and the Shard in London. Although the prices at Zorlu seem eye popping, it is useful to keep in mind that they are still well off the above mentioned projects and just a fraction of 1 Hyde Park, where you may have heard that last week a 1550 sqm penthouse property was sold for 255 million USD.

1 Hyde Park - seems like a good deal to me

1 Hyde Park – seems like a good deal to me, truly standout unique.

There is little doubt that the Zorlu center has become the leading name in Istanbul luxury property. Having always been skeptical of big numbers, I have to take a step back and wonder how much early buyers in Hyde Park must have profited. The world of luxury property moves in strange ways, often in an impressively vertical fashion.