Imagine if you could live in a place that looked like the real Disneyland. Indeed, it has been a fantasy of many. The Burj Al Babas real estate was built with the intent of making this fairytale dream come true.
Initially, the $200-million project was intended to build 732 three-story villas with the same design. However, when Turkey fell into a debt crisis, the town project was left incomplete.
Once a dream project for the elites, the place now stays devoid of people. So, what triggered the death of this luxury project? It is essential to look at the events that caused this to understand the rise and fall of the Burj Al Babas.
Burj Al Babas: The Disneyland Dream Of Turkey
Consisting of Gothic Disney-style castles against a stunning green backdrop- is nothing short of amazement. Situated near the northwest, beneath the Mudurnu hills in Turkey, its construction started back in 2014.
Initially, the mansions were not the only thing to be included. The UAE investors bought most of the properties. The Sarot Property Group even had plans to make a marketplace, a theatre, gardens, a spa, and sports complexes.
Placed between Istanbul and Ankara, the Burj Al Babas is the closest you can get to living the fairytale life from Disney stories and movies.
The multi-million dollar development project had lots of hope in the beginning. It came with all the luxury features one wants.
A Community Fit For A King
As for the houses, they were stunning. The Châteauesque houses were built according to the Revivalist architecture of seventeenth-century France. With classic Turkish modifications made to the traditional style, each house stood as the epitome of luxury.
Perfectly adorned French Juliet balconies and small tower-like turrets formed the castle-like structure. The homes came with all the exterior glamour of a fairytale castle.
The locals disapproved of the stoic aesthetics, though, as it bore a striking contrast to traditional Ottoman houses.
Other than the aesthetics, the functionality was unique as well. The miniature town was built to be self-sufficient. So, anyone living there would not need to leave for any amenities or entertainment.
No Price Is Too High For Luxury
A fairytale dream like this also comes with a high price tag. With so many features and ample space to spare, these houses were far from being cheap.
The price was steep, but they were selling like hotcakes. With each house being priced within the range of $37000 to $53000, the project had a great beginning. Still, the outrageous price was not even the most surprising part.
Despite having such a high cost, there were reports that the properties began to sell in advance. Meaning investors were willing to buy the houses even before their completion. The Sarut Group had left no stones unturned in marketing their most ambitious project.
Unfortunately, the dream was bigger than the outcome. When the Turkish economy fell in 2018, the project came to a halt, with only 530 half-built buildings made. As a result, the houses were still left incomplete.
A Big Blow For Burj Al Babas
People stopped buying or even paying for the properties in full in this situation. The chairman of the Sarot Group, Mehmet Emin Yerdelen, still holds that responsibility for the decline.
The political turmoil of Turkey was also partially responsible for the dismay of the Burj Al Babas project. 2014 marked the first time Turkey had its direct presidential election. Before this, the president was chosen by the MPs in the parliament.
The steep rise of the economy for the past decade stopped suddenly. The policies implemented by President Tayyip Erdogan and his AKP party seemed to fail.
Once, an inflation rate of 100% had come down to single digits under the government. Suddenly that situation reversed.
A Dark Phase For Burj Al Babas
The falling prices of oil did not help the situation either. Even after the financial blows, the Sarot Property Group was hopeful of reopening the town in 2019. Unfortunately, the group had to file bankruptcy with $27 million of debt.
When that plea also got declined, there was nothing left to redeem the project. So finally, the plans for Burj Al Babas were officially dropped.
In a desperate attempt, Mezher Yerdelen swore to complete the project once and for all in 2021. Sadly, the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world, and the construction work has been adjourned with no recent updates.
A Luxury Town Turned Abandoned Village For Tourists
With no one to take care of the project now, the town remains desolate. It didn't take long before tourists started taking an interest in the long-abandoned ghost-like town with high-end European-style architecture.
The Burj Al Babas remains an example of the negative impacts of second home tourism. What started as a luxury valley for the Gulf elites now stands as an eerie ghost town. Today, people from around the globe flock to see this abandoned ghost town.
The Future For Burj Al Babas
This spectral city, on the north coast of the Black Sea, is a beautiful sight. Although it is a warning sign for the other developers of the country. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promoted this type of heavy-duty construction as an attempt to boost the economy.
The unforeseen falling value of the Turkish currency has since left many builders in debt. The fall of Burj Al Babas holds a warning sign for the construction industry of the country.
After all, not just the builders but anyone associated with these projects suffer the same fate.
This project also depicts the negativity of improper planning that doesn't take the history and geography of the surroundings into account. After this project, the government was compelled to introduce new building regulations, but it may be too late to repair the damage.