In the 20th century Turkish operetta Life Deluxe the librettos sang: “An apartment in Nisantasi, Sisli / If you don't have one / Then you are no one.” Over a century later, this is still the case, with Sisli property some of the hottest real estate in Istanbul. However, as Istanbul’s popularity has soared, most investors have been priced out of the area - unless your name is Trump, of course.
Nonetheless, there is still one corner of Sisli that hasn’t been as affected by rising prices and development as the rest of the city - although it’s only a matter of time before this sole corner joins the rest of Skyscraper City. The Sisli neighbourhood of Bomonti is just a stone’s throw from the exclusive area of Nisantasi and three kilometres from Taksim Square, yet prices are still favourable. This old town built around a historic brewery is on the cusp of mega-development, with a number of high profile names taking advantage of the lower land prices to make their mark on this up-and-coming area.
Investors are likening Bomonti to London’s Docklands. Once a wasteland of warehouses and breweries, development has ensured that Docklands property is now some of the most coveted - and most expensive - in Europe. And this is what’s happening in Bomonti, as big names like Rixos, Trump and the IC Residence stake their claim on the area and ensure its status as one of Istanbul’s most promising neighbourhoods.
A push by the municipality to improve infrastructure has seen the “7 Tepe, 7 Tunel” (7 Hills, 7 Tunnels) project roll out around the city. The main goal was to reduce traffic by developing tunnel systems in Istanbul’s busiest districts. Bomonti itself is now connected via tunnel to Inonu Stadi, a neighbourhood that sits between Ortakoy and Beyoglu, allowing residents and workers fast and easy access to these central waterfront areas.
Of course, the welcome side effect of this initiative has been a positive effect on Bomonti property prices as it becomes better connected to the rest of the city. City workers who want the convenience and the prestige of an inner city residence but don’t want to pay the eye-watering prices of nearby Nisantasi or Taksim are flocking to Bomonti. And infrastructure works are ongoing - ensuring Bomonti’s popularity and real estate prices will continue to rise.
Bomonti is also connected to the rest of the city on the metro system, with Osmanbey station just one stop from Taksim Square Station.
Sisli was one of the fastest-growing residential areas of the 20th century, and Bomonti was the district’s industrial heart. The neighbourhood was named after a brewery which was founded in 1890 by the Bomonti Brothers of Switzerland. This brewery was the first modern style factory of its sort in Turkey, and industry grew up around it, causing the area to thrive. Over time, the brewery was extended and a beer garden opened in the 1930s. Sadly, the factory produced its last brew in 1991 and was left vacant afterwards.
The Bomonti Brewery is still there today, a poignant reminder of Istanbul’s industrial heyday. However, projects other than yeasty beverages have been brewing in the old beer factory, which, with a 250 million-euro injection from IC Investment, is to be turned into a visitor hub with a hotel, shops, restaurants, a museum and an arts centre.
And right next door, a new Hilton Hotel is under construction, providing a huge boost for Bomonti and the wider area.
A spokesperson for Hilton said that the hotel chain is aiming to attract a few of Istanbul’s commercial and business travellers, who have risen in number in the past decade as Istanbul becomes a centre for commerce and finance. “Hilton Istanbul Bomonti Hotel & Conference Center is set to be the largest hotel under development in the city by number of rooms and size of meeting space, providing Istanbul with a world-class conference facility which we expect will attract new international conference business to the city,” said Patrick Fitzgibbon of Hilton Worldwide.
Other big names attracted to up-and-coming Bomonti include Trump and Rixos. A Trump Towers mall opened last year, the final piece to a complex that already included residential and office units - again, catering to the growing numbers of business travellers.
A NEW CENTRE FOR BUSINESS
A number of office building projects have also begun in Bomonti as the city gathers a reputation as the regional business centre. Growing companies, seeking headquarters for their business ventures, are looking for alternatives to overcrowded and overpriced Levent and Maslak.
Arista, an affiliate of Turkey’s AR Group, has rolled out a project that will see a number of new office blocks built around Istanbul at a cost of more than $1 billion euros. A board member says that Bomonti, “the heart of the city” is first on the list, and $60 million euros has been spent on a 28-floor luxury office block with 85 offices.
Turkish property consultant Cameron Deggin said that Bomonti is “reminiscent of a 1950s Istanbul.”
“It has old fashioned neighbourhood shops, tradesmen carrying on ancient family businesses, artesans, artists, 100-year-old restaurants and lovely old industrial buildings - it has a unique charm that very few tourists and surprisingly few Istanbul residents have discovered.”
Deggin predicts that Bomonti is on the brink of great change. “Nearby Nisantasi is one of the city’s most exclusive areas - everything there from the smallest meze bar to the biggest hotel is luxurious. Looking at Nisantasi offers a glimpse of what Bomonti will be in five years’ time.”
Deggin emphasises that affordable property for sale in Istanbul is like hen’s teeth. “Bomonti is undoubtedly the last semi-affordable downtown. But in five years - or maybe even two years’ - time, you can forget it. This is the home of the last of the bargains.”
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