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NO BED OF ROSES

Trump Hotels keeps hitting pitfalls in its massive planned expansion across the US

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
Not much ribbon to cut since the election.
By Max de Haldevang
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

In March, the Trump Organization brushed away murmurs about ethics to announce plans for an enormous building spree of 50 to 100 new mid-range hotels in the US. But it seems to be finding that the US president’s name isn’t always so helpful, as Dallas reportedly becomes the latest city to see a deal fall through.

Mike Sarimsakci, a controversial developer who calls himself the “Turkish Trump,” cited local opposition to the project when he pulled out of plans to build a hotel licensed under the Trump Organization’s new cheaper Scion brand on April 11, and will team up with a different partner, according to the Dallas Morning News. Sarimsakci’s plans for a Trump-branded hotel in St Louis, Missouri, were also nixed in March after protesters marched through the town, chanting “No to Trump Tower.” A mooted hotel in Austin, Texas, found a similar fate before the US presidential election in November, though the local developer pushing the project has refused to say why it died.

It all points to a tricky road ahead for Trump Hotels CEO Eric Danziger, who says he has signed around 30 letters of intent with developers, as he aims to transform the firm from a small chain largely dedicated to branding to having a decent foothold in the US market.

Although many of the 13 places Danziger has mentioned as possible sites are in red or purple states, all but one have Democrat mayors who will be under intense pressure to stop a president riddled with conflict of interests complaints from setting up shop in town. The exception, Valley Forge in Pennsylvania, is a village without a mayor but its county did vote heavily for Trump.

Several cities have signaled things would be tough in their backyards. The head of San Francisco’s land use committee, Mark Farrell, said he would ”1,000%” oppose a Scion hotel. “President Trump has attempted to use San Francisco as a punching bag politically—this is beyond offensive,” he said in a phone interview. “His hotel organization should not expect a warm reception in my committee.”

Meanwhile, the head of Denver’s committee Mary Beth Susman said she thought there would be “huge protests” against plans for a Scion hotel, though she noted her committee can’t oppose a specific brand as long as it meets local regulations and her position meant she personally would have to remain neutral. Seattle committee head Rob Johnson has said he would be “shocked” if a hotel got built in his city, which he calls “ground zero” for anti-Trump protests.

(The Trump Organization did not immediately reply to a request for comment—we will update if they do.)

Trump Hotels isn’t the only Trump firm that’s found the presidency a hindrance; Trump’s beloved modeling agency is shutting down after an exodus of staff and talent.

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