300 rooms instead of four
Although details of the construction have been kept a secret, signs indicate that rather than renovating the existing guest house, a huge building project is underway. The Ozal-era guest house contained just four bedrooms, and was built on 230 m2 of protected land. The revelation of a 3 million lira air-conditioning contract, however, indicates that the guest house is being replaced with another enormous palace, with experts claiming the contract suggests a building of 350-400 rooms, a claim backed by the CHP MP Akin Ustundag. Meanwhile, the statement on the Presidency’s website describing the protected status of the Okluk land has been removed, as reports of the environmental devastation caused by the project continue to surface.
Environmental damage hidden behind a “Great Wall of China”
Extreme measures have been taken to guard the secrecy of the construction project, with a four-metre tall wall stretching for kilometres around its perimeter. Locals who know the area, however, have reported deforestation on a massive scale behind the wall, which Ustundag has likened to the Great Wall of China. The CHP MP went on to emphasise the harm caused by construction in Okluk Bay, which had been placed under protection due to its importance as a natural habitat. Even fishing is forbidden in the bay, which is a nesting area for Mediterranean seals.
Although the official cost of the project cost is TL1.37 billion, the Chamber of Architects in Turkey has claimed that it must have run to at least 4.5 billion liras.