The 46,241-square-meter property was previously sold to Dubai Sheikh Maktoum's construction company, Sama Dubai, for $705 million in a 2007 tender that saw stiff competition between the Gulf company and its Turkish rivals in the bidding, particularly the Zorlu Group. That tender, however, was later nullified in a lawsuit against the municipality, filed by the Chamber of Architects and the Chamber of Urban Planners, over the bidding process. Topbaş's municipal department experienced financial difficulties because it did not secure the large payment it expected from the sale back then. “We probably paid between TL 300 million and TL 400 million in interest in return for the loans we had to take because of that cancellation. It was unfair that this city's taxpayers' money had to be spent like that. And this all happened because of a single petition,” he said. Sama Dubai was to invest $5 billion in Turkey if the first tender went through.
Now the municipality is eyeing bigger revenue from its second attempt to sell the valuable asset. “We are going to open a new tender, but we will not sell it for a smaller sum. We have to compensate our losses, too,” Topbaş said.