TBY talks to Bülent Kural, General Manager of Trump Towers Istanbul, on the international brand of Istanbul, the type of clients in the Towers, and the benefits residents will experience.

Bülent Kural
Bülent Kural graduated from the Academy of Economics and Commercial Sciences, Department of Economics. Having stepped into the business life by importing international brands such as Puma and Slazenger, he worked as an executive for many years at Temsa and Lassa, part of the Sabancı Conglomerate. He worked as General Manager of Reebok Turkey for 10 years, and he got involved in the opening process of Via Port Mall and its subsequent phases as General Manager. Kural worked for Starcity Outlet Center as General Manager and also served retail companies as a consultant. He has been General Manager of Trump Towers Istanbul since January 2013.

What is the significance of Trump Towers Istanbul within the global Trump real estate portfolio?

Istanbul is among the leading cities of the world owing to its history. Throughout its history, kingdoms and empires fought fiercely with one another in an effort to rule the city. Istanbul is a magical city in every aspect. Trump is one of the most important brands in global real estate. Trump Towers Istanbul is the first project of its kind here by Trump International, one of the leading real estate development and operation companies in the world. Trump International preferred Istanbul as the first location in Europe because the city has always been a symbol of development, advancement, and energy thanks to its amazing historical texture. The cooperation between Trump and Doğan Holding presented one of the most valuable development projects to the most priceless cities of the world. At the moment, Trump Towers Istanbul is at heart of the city with all of its glory and modern face. Doğan Holding, which brought Trump to Istanbul, is one of Turkey's most important holdings. So, when you have those three brands together—Trump, Doğan, and of course Istanbul—you are on the right track. Trump Towers is a $400 million project. It is right in the middle of Istanbul, and it is comprised of towers, residences, offices, and a mall. The project really stands out because it has got the Trump brand on it. There is one Trump Tower in the US and one in Turkey, and that is it. I think that is very significant. Trump International paid close attention to all the details of Trump Istanbul, from technical aspects to architecture. Today, one can feel all glory of the international Trump brand at every point of Trump Istanbul as it is an extremely important project.

Do you think this indicates that Istanbul is becoming an important brand in international real estate?

Definitely. Istanbul is a world city and is among the top cities for the foreign investors in the arena of international real estate. As you know, the Turkish economy has been growing rapidly and has been very stable over the last 10 years. The current government is committed to restructuring the economy and also to changing the architectural topography and feel of the city. It is a process they call “urban transformation," involving the building of solid, modern, well-constructed, and aesthetically pleasing new buildings throughout Istanbul. Turkey offers a lot of investment opportunities in this regard. Today, the real estate sector is one of the driving forces of the Turkish economy. The government has undertaken serious efforts to attract foreign investors to the Turkish real estate sector, including the new Reciprocity Law, which enables foreigners to own property in Turkey. I think this will lead to a boom in the Turkish real estate sector as more foreigners invest in land, residences, offices, and other buildings. The government is 100% committed to this process. Other projects such as the Istanbul Finance Center, new financial and residential investments in places like Ataşehir and Maslak, the third airport, the third Bosphorus bridge, and various ongoing infrastructural projects all mean that Istanbul is fast becoming a brand name, not just in terms of real estate, but overall as a global city. Existing developments will carry the Turkish real estate industry to a very prominent position in the international market. Istanbul is being publicized in the international arena, which bears its fruit in a very short time. Our top priority should be a continuation of these public efforts at a higher magnitude. Nowadays, the government as well as associations and companies have been offering infinite support to these publicity efforts. We will create opportunities to introduce the Turkish real estate market to foreign investors in the best way possible. In the comfort zone of political and economic stability, a negative situation is not likely to arise when we show the magnificence and beauty of Istanbul.

Who are your main clients in terms of residents?

As of July 2013, 75% of the offices in Trump Towers have already been rented out. Our clients are both locals and international clients. Everyone knows the Trump name, and that is a great advantage in terms of attracting potential clients. When it comes to residences, 70% have been sold already, 20% of them to foreigners. We are promoting our brand especially in countries like Russia, Azerbaijan, Kuwait, and the UAE. We need to appeal to those relatively wealthy markets.

“The real estate sector is one of the driving forces of the Turkish economy."

What are the benefits of Trump Towers as a place to live and work?

We have 204 residences, 70% of which have been sold. These are A+ residences, which are top quality. Trump Towers Istanbul is an ultra luxurious project rising in the heart of Istanbul. It is composed of a triple concept: residence, office, and mall. Trump Towers Istanbul promises a different life experience, a brand new lifestyle with its iconic architecture, authentic interior design, advanced technological features, and the very special services it offers. Each apartment offers an authentic style. Apartments sizes range between 94 sqm and 686 sqm, and they are a place where comfort and peace meets Trump quality and service understanding. Apartments planned as a glass facade from the ceiling to the floor bring Istanbul and Bosphorus scenes and the pleasure of life at high standards together. Trump Tower Residence exhibits its difference with the services it offers. White glove concierge service meets any request from the residence occupants instantly on a 24/7 basis with its professional team. Owing to the butler and valet service, it is possible to organize everything from shopping orders to the payment of bills, from hotel, flight, restaurant, or concert bookings to invitations on lounge floors. Trump Towers Residence features the first and only wine cellar in Turkey conforming to European standards. Each apartment has its own private wine cellar for 70 bottles. In the cellar there is a total capacity for 16,800 bottles, and residents can host their guests and organize wine tasting days. The occupants of Trump Towers Residence also experience the privilege of Trump Shopping Mall, one of the most elegant shopping malls in Istanbul. Indispensable items of social life such as entertainment alternatives, food and beverage areas, cinema, theater stage, exhibition hall, and a special kids' floor are available at Trump Shopping Mall, where the best local and foreign brands are in service. The occupants of the residence can emerge from their apartments and enter the colorful world of Trump Shopping Mall by simply using an elevator. Located in the hub of Istanbul, Trump Towers enjoys ease of transportation due to subway and Metrobus connections. The residents can get to Levent or Taksim from Mecidiyeköy in only 10 minutes amidst the traffic jam of Istanbul.

What is the appeal of Istanbul as a destination for international real estate investors?

It is definitely a center of attraction for foreign investors. Political and economic stability as well as improved ratings from credit rating institutions are moving us higher up the list of countries with a compelling investment story. Foreign investors have a quite dense presence in Istanbul through joint ventures, acquisitions, or totally new projects. It is obvious that such interest will further increase following legislative reforms.