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Turkish developer builds new symbol of Miami

10.11.2008

Miami-based Flagstone Property Group entered a contract bid and won with the Island Gardens Miami project, only six days after the largest terror attack in the United States. It is now breaking ground amid a global financial crisis.

  After seven years in the pipeline and while the world is writhing in pain from the crisis, the foundation finally has started work on the $640 million project.
  "After we won the contract bid, it took us seven years to get all the paperwork and permits in order and has now collided with the global crisis. But we never thought to wait out the crisis. We believed in our project Island Gardens Miami and started construction," said Mehmet Bayraktar, chairman chief executive officer of the Flagstone Property Group.

  The mayor of Miami, Manny Diaz, attended the commencement. He said the Island Gardens would be a symbol of Miami and that "a dream was coming true." The Island Gardens Deep Harbor Yachting Resort Miami officially commenced Wednesday evening, and will begin serving the Miami area by the end of 2011.  Bayraktar said 35 percent of overhead costs will be covered by equity capital and the remaining 65 percent will be credit.
  Bayraktar's story began with his father, Hüseyin Bayraktar, who founded Bayraktar Holding. The project that really put them on the map was Galleria, the first mall in Istanbul, which opened to the public in 1989. "With Galleria, Turkey's first modern shopping center, we won a European award. This award drew the attention of real estate associations globally and I joined some of them," said Bayraktar. "Then I became a part of the prestigious Urban Land Institute (ULI). When Miami first opened up bidding for the mega yacht center, they obtained a ULI list and sent a few select companies invitations to join the bidding. We were among those companies," he said.

  Bayraktar first saw the invitation coincidentally after returning from a trip to Miami, in the height of the 2001 Turkish financial sector meltdown. "Florida gave the area for development to the City of Miami in 1947 on the condition of not selling the land and whatever was built on it needed to meet their approval and the approval of the public, said Bayraktar. "In 1997, Miami developed a vision for a mega yacht harbor. In those days there were about 960 mega yachts of which 457 were still being built. Today that number is more than 7,000. A large number of these frequently stop by South Florida," he said. "47 companies joined this bid then the number dropped to 18 then to seven. We got down to the last three. A 13-person selection panel chose our project and presented it to the City of Miami. The Municipality then got approval from the State of Florida and officially gave the contract to the Flagstone Property group," said Bayraktar. 
  After all permits were applied for and received, the company began looking for a management company for the two hotels included in the project, said Bayraktar. "We have an agreement with a premier global hotel chain, Shangri-La, for the management of our main hotel. They will also manage the residence, said Bayraktar.

  "In addition, we also have an agreement with Rolls Royce. According to whatever package our customers purchase, they will be driven around in a Rolls Royce during their stay," he said. We also made a deal with a high-end yacht manufacturer to produce a small fleet of yachts for our customers who purchase a unit in the residence. The other hotel in our project will be run by the Hilton Groups new 4.5 star brand," he said.  
   

VAHAP MUNYAR
MIAMI – Hürriyet



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