Simanaitis Says

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IF YOU’RE LOOKING for a chateau (and who isn’t these days?), have I got a deal for you! Or, at least, details of a potential deal.

There are caveats, however. The property isn’t in France; it’s in northwestern Turkey. And, note, we’re not talking a unique chateau. As Tom Ravenscroft describes in his de zeen article, January 18, 2019, “Drone Footage Reveals Hundreds of Abandoned Turkish Chateaux.” And Francesca Street’s CNN Travel article, January 25, 2019, is titled “Burj Al Babas: Turkey’s $200 Million Abandoned Ghost Town.” What’s more, according to Cagan Koc in Bloomberg, November 26, 2018, “Housing project in Turkey’s north targeted rich Arab clients. Builder blames deadbeat Gulf buyers for his predicament.”

The chateaux of Burj Al Babas. Image from CNN Travel, January 25, 2019.

Burj Al Babas was to be a luxury housing development near the town of Mudurnu, in northwest Turkey, about halfway between Ankara, the country’s capital, and Istanbul.

Figure perhaps a 3 1/2–4 hours’ drive to Burj Al Babas from either Ankara or Istanbul. Image from Google Maps.

Begun in 2014, Burj Al Babas was to have 732 chateaux reportedly selling for $400,000 to $500,000 a piece. According to the Burj Al Babas website, the luxurious development would feature a large domed communal center, with shops, cinemas, restaurants, conference halls, meeting rooms, and a nursery. Other Burj Al Babas amenities would include Turkish baths, saunas, steam rooms, an aqua park, basketball courts, tennis courts, and football pitches.

This and the following image from Bloomberg.

“On the outer façade of the buildings that will be built,” the Burj Al Babas website advises, “no modification shall be allowed. The person who purchases the parcel will make all the payments regarding the construction of the building.”

Ready to move right in.

Well, maybe….

What with one thing and another, the developers Sarot Property Group got into recession-fueled financial difficulty in 2018. Some of the chateaux had been sold, but many investors pulled out, and Burj Al Babas was abandoned.

Image from CNN Travel.

In November, 2018, Bloomberg reported that Sarot Group was forced into a court-ordered bankruptcy over the Burj Al Babas’s $27 million debt. Bloomberg reported that “Sarot Group Chairman Mehmet Emin Yerdelen blamed his predicament on deadbeat clients.”

The website de zeen offers a drone tour of Burj Al Babas.

According to de zeen, Sarot Group cited a business plan to alleviate its problems: “The project is valued at $200 million,” said the group’s Deputy Chairman Mezher Yerdelen; “We only need to sell 100 villas [of 587 already completed] to pay off our debt. I believe we can get over this crisis in four to five months and partially inaugurate the project in 2019.”

A view of Burj Al Babas nestled in the picturesque mountains of Bolu Province, Turkey. Image from Bloomberg.

I’m hardly the one to offer investment advice, but I suspect the sellers are highly motivated. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2019


  1. Mark W
    February 1, 2019

    Wouldn’t, by definition, ALL the baths be Turkish? That could be a real selling point!

  2. jlalbrecht64
    February 1, 2019

    My company has been working in Turkey since 2007. I started traveling there privately starting around 2000. Beautiful country. Very nice people in general. I saw lots of big new blocks of gov’t subsidized flats during my first business trips there. The economy was booming and had been for a while. This development looks like a logical extension of that trend, and the eventual bust when the economy cools off. It would be interesting to know who the builder thought was going to buy all those houses. That’s a lot of money for a house, meaning a lot of concentrated wealth somewhere relatively nearby – as no one is going to commute to Istanbul or Ankara from there, and it’s pretty far for a weekend getaway as well. Interesting!

  3. Robert C Austin
    February 7, 2019

    While this certainly appears to have been a very high end development, I am always shocked when I see so many virtually identical structures right down to the same design, color, and roofing material. While I am not a drinking man, I have bad dreams about coming home late one night, tired, and perhaps a bit tipped over, and walking into the wrong house. It would be a potential problem if there were just a dozen or so identical units, but will close to 600, well it would be enough to drive you to drink!

    • simanaitissays
      February 7, 2019

      Agreed. This is what caught my eye in learning of Burj Al Babas.

  4. frauke
    February 20, 2019

    This looks more like a toy-city than beeing meant sereously 😉 .

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