On May 16, 2013, Doğuş Group placed the highest offer for the privatization of the İstanbul Salıpazarı Cruise Port, with a $702 million bid, winning the right to operate the port area for 30 years. In January 2014, BLG Capital, the real estate private equity arm of Bilgili Holding, acquired 19% of the shares in the company formed to develop the project leaving the remaining 81% with Doğuş Group. Following the signing of the Transfer of Operating Rights Agreement with The Turkish Maritime Administration in February 2014, the Company took over the management of the pier and started its operations. The title of the Company has been changed to Galataport İstanbul Port Management and Investments Inc. as of February 2018.
Galataport Project is a city project with a master plan coherent with the neighbourhood texture of the Karaköy region and İstanbul. With the new port, the Karaköy coastline, which is currently closed to public access, will be transformed into a promenade open to public, connecting the city with the sea. Through small streets planned between the buildings, visual and physical access to the Bosphorus will be enabled. The maximum height of the new buildings will be lower than the heights of the current ones.
Tophane Public Square, to be reconfigured into a total area of 30,000 sqm with the public park located next to it and its arms going down to the Bosphorus, is expected to become one of the most popular public squares in İstanbul. Furthermore, the historical buildings within the port area will be restored as part of the project and will thereby regain their importance as historical monuments of İstanbul.
The Cruise Passenger Terminal in the pier area will also be redesigned as part of the project in line with global standards and the pier will continue to operate as the main gateway to İstanbul and Turkey from the sea. The new terminal is planned underground in order to make the residents and visitors of İstanbul enjoy the promenade without any interruption during cruise operations. An underground carpark is also among the project plans aiming to solve the parking problem in the neighbourhood.
Hosting the İstanbul Modern Museum and Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University Painting and Sculpture Museum within its premises, Turkey’s best practices in contemporary arts, Galataport Project will become the new arts and culture center of İstanbul. The public and open spaces throughout the port area will also be used for open air exhibitions and installations.