The largest urban renewal project in Turkey’s history commenced in late 2012, with the 20-year project expected to cost up to $400 billion.
The project will take 20 years to complete and during this time seven million buildings will be demolished and reconstructed due to being unable to withstand earthquakes.
During a press conference Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar said of the project: “We will complete this project with the help of local municipalities and the support of the people. We have built nearly 500,000 buildings without any aid from the Treasury.”
The project was prompted by two earthquakes in the eastern province of Van which killed 650 people.
Around 110 municipalities across Turkey have submitted detailed studies to the government and requested aid under the redevelopment project, and TOKİ officials say that the project’s primary areas of focus will be the high earthquake risk cities of Istanbul, Bursa, Izmir, Burdur, Mersin, Aydin, Adiyaman, Giresun, and Balikesir.
The majority of buildings in Turkey are unsuitable for earthquake prone areas and do not meet current safety standards.
The project is enabled under Law 6306 which was announced by Ministry of Environment and City Planning (Turkey) and overrules all other preservation and protection regulations.
The law grants the prime minister and public housing development administration sole decisive power over the areas to be developed.
Supporters of the newly implemented law insist that it will allow the government to make cities safe from earthquakes whilst avoiding time consuming legal procedures.
Global investor interest in the project has been growing with the Investment Support and Promotion Agency of Turkey (ISPAT) being contacted by foreign builders.
Vice-President of World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA), Ilker Ayci said construction machinery manufacturers are also expected to invest in the project.
In order to expand investment opportunities, ISPAT are showing possible investors sectors which cater to their interests.
What to Expect
Turkey’s government has promised owners of demolished buildings that they will be offered interest-free loans for new properties while inhabitants will receive a one-off payment.
As a result of Law 6306, there will be a new income category introduced which will see a new account for disaster preparation opened. Tax earnings from the country’s general budget will be placed in the account, along with earnings from zoning plan violation fines and state-owned land sales.
It is expected that the project will contribute to employment figures and the construction industry development.
All contracts, procedures or transactions for the project will be exempt from taxes. The entire account will be exempt from bailiff transactions.
A research paper by Ziya Usta suggests that in the developing countries such as Turkey, urban renewal is seen a zoning application such as land adjustment. But it is more than that. It is more comprehensive and complicated.
Urban renewal projects must not be considered as just destruction of old houses and building new houses but urban renewal projects should be considered together with its social, economic and environmental effects on the practice area and whole city.