Once upon a time there stood a tobacco depot .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} ISTANBUL - The tobacco depot at Beşiktaş, considered an industrial heritage building from the early days of the Republic, has been completely demolished to make way for a hotel, despite a decision to restore the building having been made.

The Istanbul Chamber of Architects has reacted strongly to the demolition of the old tobacco depot that was located between Dolmabahçe Palace and the Turkish Naval Museum to make way for a hotel to be built by Tanrıverdi Holdings.

Mücella Yapıcı, assistant secretary general to the board of management of the Istanbul Chamber of Architects, said it was wrong to demolish a building that was part of the industrial heritage of the early days of the Republic. Yapıcı said the hotel slated for the location would have a negative affect on the already intense traffic in the area.

On the Beşiktaş shore, the building was erected in the early years of the Republic and was used as a tobacco depot for a long time, but has been abandoned for years. It initially belonged to the Tekfen Group, but since the 1990s the Tanrıverdi Group has made several attempts to transform the building into a hotel.

In 2005, the General Directorate of the Preservation of the Natural and Cultural Heritage, declared in an appeal decision that the building, presumed to have been built between 1928 and 1930, was an industrial heritage building. The directorate recognized the building as a cultural entity and ruled in favor of restoration over demolition.

Change in plans for the tobacco depot
In 2006, the appeal was reheard and a decision was made to allow functional changes to the structure for restoration on the condition "the museum of tobacco products was created on the ground floor to keep its functionality fresh in urban memory." Following this ruling, work started toward transforming the tobacco depot into a hotel while preserving its two fronts, one facing the sea and the other facing Dolmabahçe Palace.

Another appeal, however, was made regarding problems with the floor and then it was decided to demolish the building completely and rebuild.

Associate Professor Can Binan, president of General Directorate of the Preservation of the Natural and Cultural Heritage and lecturer at the Yıldız Technical University, said the depot was part of Turkey’s cultural heritage, but not of the highest order. Binan said the demolition move followed the directorate’s decision to build the hotel while preserving the two fronts. "At first, it was decided to keep the two fronts.
There were no changes to the project, but as problems with the floor appeared, another opinion from construction engineers from Istanbul Technical University and from architectural lecturers specialized in protection was sought. They said these fronts’ walls and floors were decaying and they wanted to reconstruct them because they would not last." Binan said they had inspected the area and decided to reconstruct the fronts with original materials and using original techniques.

Chamber of Architects- ’Unfit for a scientific mind’
The Istanbul Chamber of Architects opposed the project and presented their risk report to the directorate and the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. Yapıcı said despite the chamber’s report, the directorate ruled in favor of demolition and this was contradictory to technical and ethical scientific principles. Yapıcı said it was an urban crime to demolish the depot that was an industrial heritage building and said it would make Beşiktaş traffic more worse.

Binan said the hotel would house a four- or five-story parking lot and said it could make a positive contribution to traffic problems. Officials running the hotel project said they had taken every legal step necessary, responding to the directorate’s decisions, and that they were also protecting trees in the area.