This phrase keeps popping into my head these weeks as we launch upon the grand adventure of selling our building. Our building is our ‘funding’, so to speak. Four years ago, when we decided we wanted to start an art space, we knew we had little chance for any grants, funding, or any other financial support for our endeavor. Our only chance was to put down our dollars, take a loan, start a business, and buy our building. This is the final step, when our money is returned, hopefully along with our four years of salary, interest, and enough to buy a nice dinner for us and our friends.

I must say right off that it’s definitely easier to sell property that buy it, though the process is no less stressful or emotionally draining. We began with a slow word of mouth through our friends and contacts in Istanbul and abroad. This gathered the interest of Turkish artist looking for a living space and studio ‘near the center’, a few businessmen wanting apartments to rent out, and a lot of disbelief. You are really selling Caravansarai????

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Our neighborhood, on the other hand, was alive with gossip. Almost every day one of our neighbors in Perşembe Pazarı was coming up to me asking how much we are selling it for, telling me they know someone who wants to buy it, and asking please for my phone number. Uggg, the mere thought of the dozens of random Turkish men barking at me over the phone was enough to stress me out right then and there.

Two friends immediately got down to business and started researching the possibility of loans, selling family properties, and other ways to raise enough cash for the purchase. We talked a lot and were mutually very excited about the possibility that our building could have a cultured next-life, though I understood from the start that timing would be a problem.

The contractor that renovated our building tried to help by introducing us to a friend of his that might be interested. The friend was actually a real estate agent, which showed up to see the building with another real estate agent, and a potential buyer. I never did understand exactly the arrangement that the four of them had with each other, but at that point we understood we needed to set our own rules and proceed at our own pace.

Enter our faithful lawyer. With him I proceeded on a tour of a few real estate. The first meeting, a neighborhood friend of our lawyer’s proceeded in typical Turkish fashion – tea, talk, interrupting phone calls, the agent sitting behind a high, cluttered desk with his certificates and awards gracing the wall behind him. A few days later he responded that his clients aren’t really looking for investments in Karaköy. Ok.

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this is not the agent we visited…..but it could be!

The second meeting was with a new office in Karaköy, opened specifically to broker local and international investments in and around Karaköy in light of the imminent GalataPort development project. The difference between the two meetings couldn’t have been more extreme. We sat at an empty conference table, each member of our party having a clear line of sight to the other. Here, clear information about every facet of the work, responsibilities, commission, and timing were presented clearly, in chronological fashion. They called a few days later to say they had a serious client and could they please bring him by to see the building. Our lawyer saw this as a tactic to push us to sign a contract with them, but I saw more as proactivity. Nuevo-Ottoman apart hotel here we come!

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the sultan’s suite

Settling into the lull of commercial real estate, I’m working to break the last remaining strings of attachment I have to the building itself. With our personal belongings and much of the furniture removed, that has been an easier process. Hopes of a good future for our dear building are growing slim. We simply can’t agree to wait for a situation where there is waiting and risks when we can take the path of a clear straightforward business transaction. But does a shrewd decision necessarily have to end in so much faux gold?

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