Sefik Birkiye, Vizzion Europe

For more than 10 years, VIZZION Europe has been developing a wide range of real estate projects across Europe and beyond, aiming to become the real estate partner of choice for public authorities, investors, developers and operators. Sefik Birkiye, Founder and President of VIZZION Group, talked to Real Estate Publishers about the company’s background and explained how shopping malls can be developed to meet multiple demands.

What can you tell us about your company?

Vizzion Group is a real estate development company. We buy land to develop specific projects, like multi-purpose mountain or seaside resorts and multifunctional projects in the center of cities. It usually takes us two to five years to obtain authorization and financing, to find the management companies, choose the hoteliers and shopping mall managers. Once a project is ready we refinance it for the long term, we find a financial association or we sell it when the yields are stable.

Currently in Turkey we are developing multi-purpose areas next to the Black Sea, as well as shopping malls in the center of the cities? We have three different kinds of hotels, entertainment venues, such as opera, theater, jazz clubs, many kinds of high-level restaurants and of course shops, and we also provide schools for fashion, music, etc.

What is your background?

I am an architect but my company works in many different aspects; legal, financial, urban design. We provide services to the promoters, developers, investors and end users of corporate projects in many countries. After 25 years of practice, having become the largest architecture and project Management Company in Belgium, I reorganized my company to be able to finance my own projects. After seven years we now have 14 different projects; four of them are under construction; construction of another four or five will start in the coming year and the others need one or two more years of development.

It sounds like an architect’s dream, being able to finance your own projects?

It’s a dream for architects, but also for all artists. Everyone would like to be able to finance their own creation. In architecture this dream is more difficult to realize because it requires a lot of capital. You need to have investors, because it is very unlikely that an architect will earn, even in his entire life, enough capital to develop his own real estate projects.

Has working as a developer given you a new look on the business?

My goal was to repeat the best examples from my former career and to develop some ideas that cannot be developed so easily with the usual way of doing things. So I thought that my value would be in the projects where you need a lot of competence – you have to coordinate many people and you come up with a product that many existing developers or investors will not or cannot do.

What I like to do is projects that are more sustainable, more in line with what the people who may live in my buildings might like. I like to create lifestyles – a complete concept rather than giving an answer to an existing need; even create the need. For example our shopping malls are more like cultural centers, a place to be rather than just a place to buy. I think in the end that makes them more sustainable.

Just like in the old cities many activities were concentrated on the same street, now we can do it on a greater scale and within a larger area. The management of a mall like this is more complicated, but in the end it is much more sustainable, because there are many different aspects, so if one of these aspects is suffering you can change the mix, you can count on what is working well and therefore reduce the risk. And most importantly, you can offer an alternative experience to the end user.

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