Wealthy Kurd building replica of the White House in northern Iraq
It's not on 1600 Pennyslvania Avenue, but a to-scale replica of the White House under construction in northern Iraq is "close enough."
"It's outrageous, really fancy, and well-built," Tony Hozeph, general manager of Dream City, told ABC News.
Dream City is a ritzy community in the Kurdish capital of Erbil.
Hozeph would not identify the owner other than to say it was a prominent Kurdish businessman.
A buyer offered to purchase the replica for $17 million, but the current owner refused, according to Hozeph.
"It's not finished yet completely, there's no furniture and the interior construction still needs to be done," Hozeph said.
Dream City is one of Iraq's most expensive communities with mansions that would not look out of place in Beverly Hills. Vacant land in the area has a starting value of $250 per square foot. And a house sells for four times that, at $1,000 per square foot, Hozeph said.
Planned communities like Dream City are emerging on the heels of a real estate boom that began in 2003. They're home to wealthy Iraqis and Kurds who made their fortunes in oil and other businesses, Hozeph said.
Security remains a concern for the enclave, especially with the presence of the militant force ISIs which recently threatened Erbil until the U.S. air force intervened
A fortified fence surrounds the development. "High tech companies and government agencies provide security," Hozeph explained.
An Iraqi businessman has decided to build his dream home in the city of Erbil -- a replica of the White House.
The to-scale replica is being built in a gated community called "Dream City" in the Kurdish capital and has already been valued at $17 million despite not even being finished.
"It's outrageous, really fancy, and well-built," Tony Hozeph, the general manager of Dream City, told ABC News.
The building includes layers of 21-carat Italian gold leaf covering banisters and ceilings and Greek marble columns that grace the entrance, among other luxuries.
"It's not finished yet completely, there's no furniture and the interior construction still needs to be done," Hozeph added.
Dream City is one of many gated communities being built in Iraq. Land in the wealthy enclave starts at 250 per square foot and houses sell for about $1,000 per square foot, Hozeph told ABC.
Erbil is one of many cities threatened by ISIS, but recent U.S.-led airstrikes appear to have staved off further attacks by the terrorists. At least for now.
The original White House was designed by Irishman James Hoban, completed in 1801 and burned down by the British during the War of 1812. Second President John Adams was the first to live in the iconic building.
A rebuilt White House was completed in 1817 and first lived in by President James Monroe.
It is not clear how big the Iraqi White House is. There is also no word on any measures being taken to prevent possible fence jumpers.
ERBIL, Iraq (WNEW) — An Iraqi businessman is building a $20 million replica of the White House in the city of Erbil as his new home.
Shihab N. Shihab, a 58-year-old Kurdish businessman, tells Bloomberg News that the building will have layers of Italian 21-carat gold leaf covering the banisters and ceilings, with Greek marble columns at the entrance of the replica White House.
“I get to keep my bedroom for the rest of my life while Obama has to vacate it when his term ends,” Shihab told Bloomberg.
The replica will be part of the luxurious Dream City compound in Erbil.
“It’s outrageous, really fancy, and well-built,” Tony Hozeph, general manager of Dream City, told ABC News.
Shihab’s new home is 3,000-square-meters and three floors. The Erbil White House will also include a 140-square-meter bedroom, a movie theater and swimming pool, according to Bloomberg.
“It’s not finished yet completely, there’s no furniture and the interior construction still needs to be done,” Hozeph told ABC News.
The replica White House is located in a city that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria terror group is threatening. Hozeph explained that fortified fences surround the Dream City development.
“High-tech companies and government agencies provide security,” Hozeph told ABC News.
Construction of the replica White House is expected to be done early next year.