Tevfik Arif and Donald Trump’s partnership to build the Trump Soho

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The New York-based company Bayrock Group was founded in 2001 by Turkish-Kazakh businessman Tevfik Arif. The company specializes in developing luxury properties, and one of its most famous clients is Donald Trump.

Tevfik Arif emigrated from Kazakhstan to the US with the intention to create an influential real estate enterprise. He acknowledged the power of the Trump name and partnered with the family. This allowed Tevfik Arif and his firm, the Bayrock Group, to lead a world-renowned real estate project: the Trump Soho building.

This article will elaborate on how Tevfik Arif and Donald Trump collaborated to build the luxurious Trump Soho building.

Tevfik Arif’s early life in Kazakhstan

Tevfik Arif was born post-war and lived in the conservative family of the Kazakh SSR. He was a talented child who always liked to study despite all the restrictions that the war brought to people’s homes.

His impressive academic achievements led him to Moscow University, where he studied economics and international relations.

Tevfik Arif’s career was built over decades that have seen dramatic shifts in how business is conducted. 

His early career followed a familiar path for his generation’s young, successful, and aspiring young men. 

Arif worked for the Soviet government bureaucracy. The Soviet Ministry of Commerce and Trade employed Tevfik Arif for 17 years in its Hospitality Management Department. During his career, he held several positions, rising to deputy department head. 

Working in the Soviet government undoubtedly sparked an interest in hotel property development and management. That experience would eventually make Arif pursue those types of business in the private sector.

During the early 1990s, the Soviet Union collapsed, and the industry was privatized. Therefore, many enterprising individuals seized the opportunity to enter the new economy through investments and acquisitions. 

In Kazakhstan and other former Soviet republics, Arif and his brothers invested in the natural resources sector. 

Arif then furthered his interests in the industry by developing other companies and partnerships. Eventually, he would expand his business into the automobile and food sectors.

Tefvik Arif’s path into New York real estate: the Bayrock Group

In 2001, Tevfik Arif moved to America to expand his business and be closer to his American family. He founded Bayrock Group in New York City, which develops luxury real estate.

Many of Bayrock’s first projects were small, despite Arif’s efforts to develop his connections and understand the local market. 

His primary focus eventually shifted to Manhattan’s prestigious real estate market. Despite New York’s intimidating real estate market, Arif was enough of an experienced investor and business entrepreneur to handle the pressure.

Initially, Bayrock Group executed small to medium-sized projects in New York. For example, the company renovated Loehmann’s Seaport Plaza in Brooklyn’s Sheepshead area.

Following Bayrock Group’s success, Tevfik Arif became increasingly ambitious. To focus the company’s strategy on more significant projects, he decided to change its strategy.

As part of his new strategy, Bayrock Group moved its offices from the Fifth Avenue to the Trump Tower in New York City.

Since the move put the company near the Trump Organization, it yielded more significant benefits than any other location. One of the world’s most renowned family organizations was in the same building.

Tevfik Arif’s Bayrock Group and Donald Trump become business  partners

There are not so many immigrants from Kazakhstan that have built successful businesses in the US. When it comes to prominent Kazakh figures, Tevfik Arif cannot be overlooked. 

He has tried a variety of business strategies from a young age to become one of Donald Trump’s business partners.

In the Trump Tower, Tevfik Arif and the Bayrock Group met members of the Trump Organization.

Bayrock Group included the Trump Organization in a project in New York City’s Soho district due to these business ties.

A project in Soho was already in development between Bayrock Group and the Sapir Organization. However, they thought the Trump Organization could add some brand recognition and prestige.

Tevfik Arif drafted a plan to give the Trump Organization 18% equity in the Soho building. In exchange, the construction would use the Trump brand in its name.

Bayrock Group hired world-renowned interior designers to decorate the building, while Handel Architects designed the building.

In design and architecture, Handel Architects is recognized as a global leader with experience worldwide.

The firm’s projects include the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Washington, D.C., and the September 11th National Memorial in New York City.

Fendi Casa pieces were provided for Trump Soho by the design and architecture company Rockwell Group.

The Rockwell Group also has an impressive resume, like Handel Architects. The firm’s clients are several luxury hotels, upscale restaurants, and casinos.

Bayrock Group, the Sapir Organization, and the Trump Organization signed the agreement, and the construction of what would become Trump Soho could begin in 2006.

Tevfik Arif and Donald Trump’s relationship after the Soho project

Trump Organization and the Bayrock Group plan to collaborate on several other real estate projects following Trump Soho’s successful opening. Those other real estate projects are mainly in Arizona and Florida.

However, the global financial crisis of 2008 hindered the business plans of the Bayrock Group and the Trump Organization.

Therefore, Tevfik Arif returned to Europe and Central Asia because of a changing market in the United States.

He has extensive tourism and real estate knowledge that he acquired during his studies. It also proved helpful when he moved to Turkey in 1993 to start a new business venture.

Tevfik Arif opened the Labada luxury hotel in Antalya and quickly became a pioneering force behind the timeless all-inclusive resorts.

He enjoyed eight more years of outstanding achievements in Europe and Central Asia before he went across the Atlantic to conquer the American market.

A total of $2.5 million was invested in real estate assets by Bayrock Group while operating in the United States. 

The Bayrock Group has not undertaken any US real estate development projects for the past few years.

Although Tevfik Arif has stepped down from most of his responsibilities at Bayrock Group, he remains a highly valued advisor.