Donald Trump has at times sought to benefit financially from his presidency — but it’s not working. He handed over executive control of the Trump Organization to his two adult sons Donald Jr. and Eric upon taking office, and under their leadership, a planned hotel chain expansion that was supposed to open last year still hasn’t even had foundation work complete for a single building.
The Trumps are trying to establish a “Scion” brand of hotels, with their first establishment in Cleveland, Mississippi, where their father remains popular. The hotels, though, aren’t for the locals, since area residents often earn wages under $35,000 a year and estimated starting nightly rates sit at $200 to $300 a night.
The idea behind the anticipated Mississippi development is to run on the fumes of local tourism. Whenever it is completed, the local Scion will be a short distance from the recently opened Grammy Museum, and the area already hosted tourists looking into the local blues music community.
Although that sounds nice on paper, none of the Trump Organization’s component is reality yet. Development on the Mississippi Scion project has lagged tremendously to the point of remaining at least a year from completion months after it was supposed to be open, and there’s been no publicly apparent progress on Scion hotels anywhere else despite previous Trump Organization claims of a full 39 letters of intent covering properties including that planned launch.
In the meantime, the Trumps have sent local Mississippi businessman Dinesh Chawla further and further down the rabbit hole in search of their ambitions. He has explained that he will likely spend as much as $5 million more on the project than he’d originally planned. He and his brother Suresh are the developers and owners on the project, while the Trumps are the managers. They’ve had him spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on reworking the plans for the not yet completed hotel to make it more in line with their business plans, including getting more events to the area.
Besides developing the Scion project, three other Chawla-owned properties might be in line to convert to be part of a second long planned Trump Organization expansion that has yet to materialize — the lower cost “American Idea” chain. Those other properties are all in the same Cleveland, Mississippi, area — and again, they’re the only ones to even be nearly this far in the production process.
The Trump Organization declined to offer anything but vague commentary on the planned Scion and American Idea expansions when pressed by The Washington Post.
It’s not the only front on which they’re struggling.
Hotel revenue has been down for the Trumps across the board — in cases where they even have their hotels still. They’ve lost properties in Panama, New York, and Chicago recently, sometimes under high profile circumstances like the physical brawls that broke out in Panama City.
The family business has pushed already in place projects along in Vancouver, Dubai, and India, but those have been swamped under the weight of the other setbacks.
The Trumps and their business also continue to face legal challenges on top of these issues questioning whether the business model is appropriate at all considering the elder Trump’s presidency, among other issues.
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