“This area has the capacity to hold 7000 apartment flats and house 28,000 people,” says Ibrahim Eksi, president of the management committee of the Hektas Group, in an interview with fDi. “We’ve limited the number of homes and given maximum space to woodlands. The green area, with a forest, will represent 72% of the community. Some 100,000 trees will be planted.” Only 12% of the land in the development will be used for buildings and about 4.5 kilometres of special paths are being designed for the handicapped.

“We have sold 80 villas and 10 blocks of apartments, and made considerable progress on the construction work,” says Mr Eksi.

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Idealist Kent is one of more than 100 large housing projects under construction in Istanbul that will transform the city into a 21st-century megalopolis. The project will contain 250 villas and 660 apartment flats, three schools, a kindergarten, a commercial centre, social centres, swimming pools, a health centre, a helicopter pad, a mosque and a religious centre.

Leading figures

Some of Turkey’s leading businessmen and political figures, including Turkish foreign minister and former prime minister Abdullah Gül, have bought homes in Idealist Kent. British, American and Belgian citizens have also prepaid for their homes.

The project is a joint venture between the Hektas Group, the state housing development administration (TOKI) and the state real estate investment company, Emlak Konut. Hektas is developing the property, owned by the two state organisations, and constructing the entire site. It is sharing the revenues from sales with TOKI and Emlak Konut.

The Hektas Group is a Turkish conglomerate with interests in contracting, real estate development, insurance brokering, private education and building maintenance. The group has nine companies, of which Hektas Insaat Ticaret ve Sanayi, the main construction company, is the flagship.

Family business

Founded in 1984 by businessman Hakki Eksi and his five sons – Ibrahim, Imdat, Süleyman, Yüksel and Ismail Hakki – the group has constructed nearly 100 government buildings, schools, hospitals and residences for government employees in the cities of Erzurum and Kars, in eastern Turkey. It has also laid 2500km of natural gas pipelines for the municipalities of Istanbul and nearby Izmit, and built a dam in Tekirdag province, 150km west of Istanbul.

The Eksi family comes from Tulumpinar, a village in the mountain valleys of Rize province, on the verdant eastern Black Sea coast, an area often described as ‘the Switzerland of Turkey’. The region has a reputation for supplying a high number of Turkey’s contractors, builders and businessmen.

Mr Eksi, who succeeded his father in 1999 as head of the group, says that he had to walk 12km every day to the nearest town to go to primary school, because there was no school in his village. He completed high school in Erzurum, where his father started the family construction business, and eventually completed a university degree in economics after finishing school through correspondence courses.

“My entire childhood and youth were spent working with my father at construction sites and going to school,” says Mr Eksi, the oldest of the five Eksi brothers.

The Hektas Group is working on 14 construction projects in western and central Turkey, with Idealist Kent as its largest ever undertaking. It is erecting many faculty buildings at the Sakarya University in the city of Adapazari; completing the infrastructure of Kayseri University in the city of Kayseri; laying 300km of natural gas pipelines in Izmit; building a cultural centre and a museum in Istanbul; and constructing primary and secondary schools throughout the country.

It is also constructing a faculty of fisheries at Gazi University in the town of Inebolu, along the western Black Sea coast.