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Arif brings lap of luxury to New York City market.

The flags of the United States, Turkey and Kazakhstan, proudly displayed on his desk, and the telescope situated at the corner of the room, serve as symbols of a savvy international developer with the diversity and drive to do remarkably well in the New York City market.

And while his Fifth Avenue office may be a far cry from his native Kazakhstan, one thing has never changed for Tevfik Arif, founder and chairman of Bayrock Group, and that is his love for luxury.

Arif, a graduate of the Moscow Institute of Trade and Economics, began in the property management aspect of real estate. He worked with the Ministry of Commerce and Trade in the former Soviet Union for 17 years, serving as the chief economist and deputy director of the Ministry's Department of Hotel Management. But he wasn't just content with managing.


Expounding on his hotel management knowledge, Arif developed luxury Hotel Labada on Turkey's breathtaking Mediterranean coastline. He followed suit with four other luxury hotels--now part of Bayrock's affiliate Rixos Hotels --there, before taking his expertise to New York. Coming to the U.S. had its hardships early on, but Arif calls it a blessing, a gift.

While there's less red tape in the U.S., Arif had to learn an entirely new system to develop within. He began small, taking on shopping centers and residential projects first, while he learned the ins and outs of New York City real estate. And there was also the language barrier.

"In Turkey, I didn't have a language problem because I speak Turkish. But my English is not so good," Arif said. But one would be fooled in measuring Arif's success with his knowledge of the English language.

In 1996, his first U.S. deal consisted of the purchase and redevelopment of a 280,000 s/f waterfront shopping center in Brooklyn. Ten years later, he's celebrating his firm's partnership in the development of the luxurious Trump SoHo, with units expected to sell for approximately $3,000 psf. He believes success stems from surrounding yourself with the right people, and for Arif the right people included Donald Trump.

"He's been very helpful to us from the beginning and he's been very helpful in opening some doors. The strength of the relationship is: we do what we do best--and we're very active in what we do--and Trump does what he does best," Arif said.

"I especially like the fact that Trump demands more from his children than anyone else." His son, Arif, is an immense source of pride and inspiration for him as well. The 21-year-old attends Norwich University.

Partnering with Trump, Bayrock has developed luxury mixed-use projects like Trump International Hotel & Tower Ft. Lauderdale (the firm's first Trump endeavor) and Trump International Hotel & Tower Phoenix. Other projects include high-end developments in Miami and the Trump Las Olas, in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. But with 20 hotels and $2.5 billion worth of transactions on his resume, Arif says the best for Bayrock is yet to come.

Bayrock just penetrated the Swiss market with a high-end residential conversion of a "castlelike" building. They've also hit the French market and, said Arif, "we're very actively looking into Eastern Europe, South Africa and South America."

"But the most important thing in development is not the bricks and it's not the location. It's the team," Arif said. "The strength of our ability to work internationally is to have a local team in place."

Bayrock will also continue its advance on the New York market, and Arif has high hopes for the city. He wants to bring the luxury of Manhattan to the boroughs so that, one day, those living in Manhattan will look out on the horizon and enjoy a skyline just as spectacular.

"Our dream is to look out at the other side of the river and build an entire city there ... I believe the City should change its zoning; the number one city in the world should not have industry and factories along its waterfront," Arif said.

Arif envisions a future need for luxury ferries. He also wants to see more promenades, recreational areas, pedestrian-friendly uses, commercial space, high-end hotels and green space in New York City.

"As Kennedy said, 'Some men see things as they are and say why? I dream things that never were and say why not?'" Arif said.
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Title Annotation:PROFILE OF THE WEEK: Tevfik Arif, founder and chairman, Bayrock Group
Comment:Arif brings lap of luxury to New York City market.(PROFILE OF THE WEEK: Tevfik Arif, founder and chairman, Bayrock Group)
Author:Turcotte, Jason
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Sep 26, 2007
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