There is nothing new about Cosmopolis, the large residential project in the north of Bucharest. The peaceful life of the inhabitants hasn’t changed since 2007, when the Turkish company Opus Land Residential Development began what, at that moment, seemed just another project. But the truth is few of those projects that launched back pre-2008 survived to be actually developed according to the initial plans. Today, Cosmopolis has 2,300 apartments and villas and more than 5,000 inhabitants, it has become a small village in the north of the capital. The total investment up until now is about 280 million euro, the budget being allocated to the buildings, infrastructure, green spaces, facilities and retail spaces. Ahmet Buyukhanli, CEO of Opus Land Residential Development, has plans that stretch for at least another 10 years. But he also has enough available land to build on and enough money to invest.
By Fulvia Meirosu
There is also nothing particularly new about Ahmet Buyukhanli. For the last couple of years he has lived in Cosmopolis and he is doing the same things. Basically, his job is to make sure that things remain the same: apartments are being built and sold and people keep moving in. More people mean more needs, therefore more facilities.
The latest development is the strip mall Cosmopolis Plaza, following an investment of EUR2.2 million. It has already opened with many stores including those dedicated to children, a pharmacy, a dry cleaner, a pet-shop, clothing stores, a supermarket, a cafeteria, a restaurant, an interior design shop, a natural food shop, a beauty salon and other spaces for services. Besides the strip mall, the residents of Cosmopolis benefit from a range of facilities that include a kindergarten, a primary school, a park, a private beach by the lake near the buildings, seven outdoor pools, outdoor basketball, football and tennis courts, a restaurant and several playgrounds. Without doubt, the primary attraction of the community are the outdoor pools. A big fan of sports himself, Buyukhanli bikes each and every morning, yoga from time to time, but his all time passion is nautical sports – he goes nautical skiing on Snagov lake and also in his native Turkey.
Buyukhanli’s family does business in Antalya, in the hospitality industry: Justiniano Hotels includes eight hotels with 8,000 beds. But the main part of the family business and revenue comes from the construction sector, where his family has been active since 1953. They are a traditional family, where the business is done with and managed by the family: the first buyers of apartments in Cosmopolis were Ahmet’s sister and his cousin. Ahmet travels to Istanbul fortnightly, and not just because he misses the food, but his family. After all, he began his career aged just 15 working with his brothers and his father. One can see from a mile that he’s an old-fashioned type of businessman: always in a suit and a tie, always talking about his family, always being discreet about his private life. And always his desk is strewn with papers. No computer, just a tablet, the phone, papers and books. Currently Ahmet is reading philosophy – Nietzsche and Montaigne. “I read a lot, it helps me think out of business. I also read Ziarul Financiar, Turkish newspapers, the magazines that come here. I understand a bit of Romanian and now I’m taking lessons three times a week, because I want to have Romanian citizenship too,” says the businessman who has lived here for 10 years already. He confesses to feeling right at home with Romanian culture, perhaps especially since it has many similarities with the Turkish one. Importantly for Ahmet Romanian citizenship has advantages in Europe, Romania has a good tax system and lower taxes than in Turkey, and since the family’s investment is here, it will be easier for the business to buy land in his name. “At first sight Romania and Turkey are not similar, but after you stay here some time, you notice the similarities in the culture and in the behavior of the people, you notice the Balcanic way of being,” says the businessman.
“Our goal for 2017 is to maintain sales or even increase and to reach 540 sold units. Last year we sold 470 units, with a total value of 30 million euro. We recorded a sales increase of 10% compared to what we estimated: we sold 258 apartments in the first 5 months of 2017. This year we will keep investing in general development and the infrastructure of Cosmopolis,” says Ahmet. The buyers prefer studios and one-bedroom apartment, with surfaces of 54-86 sqm, followed by villas and 2-bedroom apartments. The selling price starts from 46,000 euro and goes up to 250,000 euro for a custom villa on the shore of the lake. Nothing like as luxurious as the other developments of the family in Turkey, Cosmopolis is a normal residential complex, for normal people. But this is exactly what the market wants and is asking for. Nobody would have moved in Cosmopolis if it was poorly done, with no facilities and no community feeling. But the developer always listened to the desires of the inhabitants. So, in the near future, a church is scheduled to be built, and also a gym and fitness facility, with an indoor pool.
“We thought about other projects, but Cosmopolis is very time consuming. I have to plan for the future, the facility management and many other things. We have 25 more hectares of land and we plan a similar type of mix: apartments and villas. The goal is to keep the same concept, to have apartments and villas but also green areas, kindergartens, schools etc,” says Ahmet. The developer is doing regularly polls of the people living in Cosmopolis, and there is also a wish list. “There are real needs, sometimes there are problems, sometimes we do the wishlist just for fun. The most appreciated facilities are the pools, the places for kids, the security of the project, the shuttles to the city,” says Ahmet.
A successful community like Cosmopolis needs to have several ingredients: the concept to gather people around, a mix of housing so that people of different financial levels can come together and a mix of facilities. The better the mix, the better the community. Most of the Cosmopolis clients are people buying with a loan from the bank and they are not only thinking about the house, but very much about the facilities.
“We have around 500 new families coming here every year. That has been the average through the last few years and this is our aim for the next years. We are selling 50-60 apartments a month. In the near future we will be connected to the highway Bucharest-Ploiesti,” says the businessman.