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Shiny tall things

Can a golden skyscraper help Donald Trump finally make a profit in India?

Property developer Donald Trump and his son Donald Jr. have been extolling the virtues of the Indian real estate market for years, and have been linked to a several projects that were announced with fanfare and then either failed to get off the ground or have yet to be started.

Now that property values are falling, the rupees is scraping lows and the long-term economic outlook for the country is in doubt, the Trumps appear to be jumping into India in earnest, announcing a new Mumbai project on Twitter:

The 800-foot high “gleaming golden edifice” will feature three, four and five-bedroom apartments at 8 to 10 crore rupees ($1.3 to $1.6 million) with jacuzzis and “seven-level security,” set inside a seven-acre park in the heart of Mumbai. (Here’s the brochure, and a very tiny artist’s rendition of the building is here) It also won’t cost Trump a thing—the entire project “not owned, developed or sold by Donald J. Trump, The Trump Organization or any of their principals or affiliates,” a press release explains. Instead, a subsidiary of India’s Lodha Group “is the owner and developer, and promoter of the property.”

The Lodha project isn’t Trump’s only recent foray in India—earlier this month, Trump Sr. announced, again on Twitter, a partnership in the southern city of Pune to build a two tower development with five-bedroom apartments, each with its own home cinema. Super-fit Bollywood mega-star John Abraham is designing the gym. The project has been in the works for some time. Partner Panschil Realty explained how it would work to the Wall Street Journal last year, and it sounds, again, like a low-risk proposition for Trump: “We will be using the Trump brand name but the entire investment will be ours, and we will share a certain percentage of revenue with Donald Trump.”

In early August, Trump pulled out of another Mumbai residential project with Rohan Lifescapes three years after work on it began, because the project had lost “its luxury tag,” an unnamed source told The Mumbai Mirror. Permits granted to the project in October 2010 were subsequently withdrawn, the Mirror reported, because of “irregularities” in the permitting process, and even a 2012 visit to India by Donald Jr. couldn’t save it.

If the Mumbai project does eventually get built, it may not immediately provide much of a boost to Trump’s bottom line. A recent report by luxury property company Savills ranked Mumbai dead last among ten major cities for residential real estate returns.

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