Published On: Sat, Jan 25th, 2020

Tevfik Arif’s Bayrock Group: Trump SoHo and Luxury Real Estate Ventures

International businessman Tevfik Arif’s Bayrock Group quickly ascended to the top of luxury real estate firms in New York City with the development of the Trump SoHo project.

When Tevfik Arif founded Bayrock Group, he was pursuing a personal ambition and passion to develop luxury real estate projects around the world. Arif, a Turkish-Kazakhstani entrepreneur, followed a unique path to become a successful property developer and investor. Born in Soviet Kazakhstan, Arif began his career working in the Soviet government’s Department of Tourism.

Tevfik Arif photo/ twitter

Arif first entered the private sector during the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the privatization of industry that followed. His early endeavors were concentrated in the mining and mineral resources sectors in Kazakhstan. The success Arif and his family achieved allowed him to pursue additional business interests including real estate.

Tevfik Arif Establishes Bayrock Group

Bayrock Group was established in New York City in 2001. The company was businessman Arif’s first entry into the American real estate market. Arif had already established a rich portfolio of luxury property and hotel real estate across Central Asia and Europe before setting his sights on the United States and had proven himself an accomplished business leader.

The first projects undertaken and successfully completed by Bayrock were relatively small and modest as the young company began to establish itself in the new market. These development projects included the renovation of a shopping center in the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn.

The company decided to accelerate its growth by relocating its offices and concentrating its efforts in Manhattan, the most competitive and expensive real estate sector in the city. For Arif, Manhattan represented a kind of prestige that could only be found in New York City.

Bayrock Group established its new offices on the 24th floor of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. It was not long before the company began negotiations with the building’s most famous tenants, the Trump Organization, to work together on potential development projects.

The Trump Organization has a storied reputation in the local real estate market. One thing that the Trump Organization had that Bayrock, a relative newcomer to the industry, did not have was brand recognition. Both organizations shared ambitions to build luxury development projects in the city and beyond. 

photo/ Walkerssk

Bayrock Group’s Trump SoHo: The Epitome of Luxury

Bayrock Group had plans to develop and construct a new luxury hotel and condominium complex in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan in partnership with the Sapir Organization. As a way to elevate the profile of this ambitious project, Bayrock Group pursued a new strategy. They signed a licensing agreement with the Trump Organization to brand the project under the Trump name. 

In 2006, construction work began on the new Trump SoHo Tower that would rise 46 stories high above Spring Street in the Hudson Square neighborhood of Manhattan.

Under the agreement with Bayrock, the Trump Organization would receive 18% equity in the project and would operate as the building’s manager. The Trump Organization did not invest any of its own capital in the development or construction of Trump SoHo.

Donald Trump announced the project in a high-profile segment on his popular television show, “The Apprentice.”

Bayrock and the Sapir Organization commissioned the New York-based Handel Architects to design the building’s architecture. David Rockwell of the Rockwell Group, a firm famous for its work in luxury hotel design, was hired as Trump SoHo’s interior designer.

Luxury was a priority for Bayrock Group in developing Trump SoHo. The hotel rooms were furnished by Fendi Casa, the world-renowned Italian fashion house known for elegance, craftsmanship and style. The building features a gourmet restaurant, an upscale cocktail bar, a deluxe spa, pool and other lavish amenities. The exterior walls of the rooms are made with double-sided mirrors providing panoramic views of Manhattan and the Hudson River.

Tevfik Arif and Bayrock Group After Trump SoHo

Trump SoHo Tower was completed in 2008. The building remains a symbol of luxury and pride for Bayrock Group. It was quite a risk for such a young company to take on an ambitious project like Trump Soho, especially when entering a new and unfamiliar market.

Bayrock Group and Tevfik Arif overcame numerous obstacles to ensure the success of their projects. Arif, having already built a successful international business, drew upon his skills and expertise, as well as a proven strategy of establishing alliances with other successful firms and political leaders to guarantee that Trump SoHo would stand as an example of Bayrock’s achievement.

With the success of Trump SoHo, Bayrock Group sought to develop additional projects under similar licensing arrangements with the Trump Organization across the United States and around the world. However, in 2008, the housing crisis that developed in the United States forced Bayrock to reduce its interests and assets in real estate. The working relationship between the two firms ended and no further projects have been developed.

Tevfik Arif turned his company’s business interests back to Central Asia and Europe. The company is no longer involved in the Trump SoHo building. In 2017, it was announced that the building had been renamed The Dominick under new ownership and management and was no longer affiliated with the Trump Organization.

After the success of their licensing agreement with Bayrock Group, the Trump Organization went on to partner with several other firms under similar arrangements, promoting the use of the Trump brand name through the development of luxury properties in the United States and beyond. 

Arif has now retired from the daily operations of his family’s business. The company remains successful and he remains an important source of wisdom and experience to the next generation of leadership.

Author: Muhammad Basit

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