In recent years, urban transformation is in the agenda of Turkey that is under the earthquake threat. The government adopted this as a policy, and in 2012 the government made a legal regulation on urban transformation. In the direction of the 15-years objective, the transformation of 7.5 million buildings considered risky in Turkey is planned. Within this scope, every year 500 thousand buildings are targeted to start transformation, 200 of them in İstanbul.
With all these construction work to be done, both citizens will live in reliable housing and the country will experience a great deal of activity. Harmoni Real Estate Consultancy and Appraisal Inc. Education and Research Director Erkan Sümer says that Turkey, which is at the beginning of the road in urban transformation, is moving towards achieving its objectives. He thinks that an important experience has been achieved so far and that the process will move forward healthier. Now let's leave the word to Sümer...
Why urban transformation is important?
With increasing industrialization and mechanization in the 1950s, the need for employment in rural areas decreased. It would be appropriate to state that the most concrete example of this as Marshall Credits. With aforementioned development, tractor purchasing the country is started and because of the work done by more than one person started to be made by a tractor, the remaining population started to migrate to the cities. Since these years are the years that our country has not yet met with city planning, the population migrating to cities has settled in the periphery of the city with its own conditions of construction. As this process continued, in 1980s, the regulation that we know as the zoning repentance law was regulated and it was tried to solve the problem of the property ownership of the population that came with the immigration to the city. The vast majority of the areas we are now talking about as urban regeneration zones have developed in this way and have already developed as unhealthy and with insufficient infrastructure that are devoid of scientific conditions. When we look at these regions from a broader perspective, we realize approximately 60 years of social and economic problem of our country. With the unemployment in rural areas and the globalization, the increased employment need in the service sector has driven the population from the rural to the city.
In fact, we are currently trying to solve this 60-years problem with the so called Urban Transformation Law (Law on the Transformation of Areas under Disaster Relief (No. 6306)) which was ruled in 2012. It is an undeniable fact that in most environments it is expressed as a physical transformation but it also causes a social and economic transformation. Our country is an important settlement area which has been living for thousands of years, however, the root of most of our cities date back to old times and the unplanned development is experienced due to the mentioned migration. It is really important for our people to renovating our constructions, having healthy living conditions and regulating infrastructure services and having livable cities. I believe that we can solve these problems that we have postponed for 60 years with the right strategic moves and we can leave safer and livable cities for the future.
What kind of process has been experienced until now?
It would not be wrong to link the plain form of urban transformation to the zoning repentance regulations of the 1980s. However, essentially, urban transformation has been a must for our lives for nearly 5 years. In this respect, we had undesirable experiences in the major regions, however, if we take lessons from them and use them as experience, we may be able to undergo processes more efficiently. Implementations have begun without the clarification of the planning and strategy, for this reason, in some major regions these practices reached deadlock. However, the official administrations have prevented the possible crises by focusing on the solution in related deadlocks. We can think of the process experienced until now, as the first experience.
Are the Expected Objectives in Urban Transformation Accomplished?
The first goal of urban transformation was the renewal of areas under disaster risk. In line with this goal, the unhealthy building stock is getting smaller every day and replaced with new ones. Local governments, both central and local, are sensitive about urban transformation and the renewal of these areas continues. Urban transformation will continue as a difficult and lengthy process in our country. Since it is a process we have just started, it is very difficult to say that the targets have been achieved in the following stages.
What is missing?
We lack planning and strategy. No mid-term plan or strategy is followed in practice. To tell the truth, we are acting a bit rushed. A few factors that are crucial for the accomplishment of the project in a region are financing, reconciliation with the workforce and right owners. We are not experiencing problems as financing and work force in our country, however, the process of reconciliation with the rights holders has slowed many projects and extended very much. According to the information I received from a very valuable academician, the reconciliation process before the implementation of the regional transformation projects in Europe lasts about 6 to 8 years. After the negotiations have taken place, the project accomplishment takes a maximum of two years. In our country, to tell the truth, the construction companies, are obviously make it up as they go along. As the process of reconciliation takes longer, the patience of both the construction companies and the rights holders is diminishing, and the project get stuck. In general, I can say that our planning and strategy are missing topics, and participation and reconciliation are the topics we need to improve.
Where is the most popular regions in Istanbul, where is the rising trend according to you?
The urban peripherals of the 1980s are now characterized as urban development areas and these are the regions where supply and demand are intensified. Especially, transport & infrastructure and service investments accelerated these regions. For the Anatolian side, Pendik and Eagle are two of the provinces where real estate prices have risen the most in the last 5 years. Parallel to this, the demand of investors has increased. In order to satisfy this demand, construction companies have developed many projects in the region. The development of new projects with existing housing units in these regions, which currently seem to be trends, may pose a risk to construction firms.
What are the locations you can suggest to buy for investment purposes?
Locations where the urban transformation projects have passed through can be evaluated. Generally, when a new project is developed in a region where old buildings are located and the sale is started, the demand for the region is unavoidably increasing, and other properties are indirectly affected. If I would suggest a location other than these, I would recommend the districts located on the eastern part of the Anatolian side, namely Sancaktepe, Kartal, Pendik, Çekmeköy, Tuzla. Especially with the ongoing transportation projects, I think that the links with the cities that are thought to be broken with the city will be strengthened.
What do you think about this question for Ankara and Izmir?
With the social and economic structures of the two cities being different from each other, Ankara shows a more constant and stable trend. However, when Izmir is taken into consideration, I believe that there will be serious price increases due to the completion of the Istanbul-Izmir highway and the fact that the Y generation that I am also belong to, is bored of the metropolis and looking for more calm coastal cities from the metropolises.
Is there a province that attracts attention in Turkey according to you, in terms of real estate...
I think it will be a bit repetitive, but I think big infrastructures and transportation projects play a significant role in real estate and urbanization. The distance between the Osmangazi Bridge and the following highway between Bursa and Istanbul was decreased to approximately 1.5 hours. 1.5 hours is an average daily circulation time for the citizens of Istanbul. Istanbul is undoubtedly one of the most important centers of Turkey, even Europe - Asia. For this reason, the increase in real estate sales in Bursa, which is increasingly related to Istanbul and facilitated accessibility, is attracting the attention. With the development of needed office space in the medium term, I think that the attraction of the city of Bursa will also increase.