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Istanbul Galataport Targeting 2020 Cruise Season


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The project, which was launched in 2013, involves the complete rebuilding and redevelopment of Istanbul’s historic, but sadly run down Salipazar port and cruise terminal and its surroundings. Plans envisage the creation of a modern facility befitting one of Europe’s biggest cities, and a suitable port of entry for seaboard visitors into one of Europe’s fastest growing tourist destinations. 

The new hi tech cruise terminal will boast a 980m long pier capable of handling all grades of cruise vessels, and with sufficient capacity to simultaneously berth up to three of the largest cruise vessels, and around 15,000 passengers a day. The broader Galataport development will extend along a full 1.2km of the historic coastline and cruise passengers included, is expected to handle seven million tourists a year, of which 1.5m will be from cruise ships. The complex will include a 52,000 sqm retail complex boasting 250 units for food, beverage and general retail, 43,000 sqm of leasable office space well as underground parking for up to 2,300 vehicles. The project also involves extensive renovation and landscaping of a further 30,000 sqm of the historic Tophane district adjacent to the port. This will include the restoration of a number of existing historic quayside buildings, some of which are being converted into a 177-room luxury hotel, and the creation further inland of a new 14,000 sqm “Tophane Square”. It will also see the welcome return of the groundbreaking “Istanbul Modern” art gallery, opened in 2004 in a then disused maritime warehouse and moved to temporary premises nearby two years ago, pending the completion of Galataport in 2020, which will see it return to a new bespoke gallery complex. 

The former Galataport endured a chequered history due largely to fluctuating perceptions of regional security. Business peaked in 2015 when the port hosted 331 vessels and close to 600,000 passengers but subsequently declined in line with the general decline in regional cruise tourism. Now with the East Mediterranean enjoying a more peaceful period, Istanbul is again being included on regional cruise itineraries with the hope being that this will continue. The Galataport development is being undertaken following an open tender held in 2013, won by Turkish media-to-automotive giant Dogus Holding, with a bid of $702 million, granting them the right to redevelop the site and operate it for a period of 30 years. Dogus subsequently formed a consortium with textiles to tourism group Bilgili Holding. 

Both groups have extensive experience in both real estate development and tourism. Dogus’ tourism subsidiary operates hotels, resorts and marinas in Turkey, as well as Italy, Greece and includes travel agency and event management operations. Bilgili for its part was responsible for the successful redevelopment and conversion for tourism purposes of the historical Akaretler terraces in the nearby Istanbul district of Besiktas. Most recently the group announced that it will be redeveloping New York’s Gucci building, which it purchased last year for $135m as a mandarin Oriental luxury hotel. Report by David O’Byrne

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