A Dallas developer is dropping plans to open hotels using the Trump Organization’s new Scion brand, according to a city councilman.
Mike Sarimsakci had planned to put the Scion brand on a hotel in Dallas and another in St. Louis. But he is walking away, partly because of objections over foreign money, Dallas Councilman Philip Kingston told CNNMoney.
Sarimsakci told CNNMoney in February that Trump has been “my idol for a very long time.” The Turkish-born developer raises much of his money from overseas sources, including in Russia and Kazakhstan, according to Kingston.
Public opposition to Trump also played a role in Sarimsakci’s decision to drop the Scion name, even in the red states of Texas and Missouri, Kingston said. Dallas County voted 61% for Hillary Clinton last year.
“Dallas is a very blue city,” said Kingston, a Democrat who opposed the project. “You’re looking at a very unpopular president taking unpopular actions. I think it’s a dumb idea for a developer to go into business with him. Trump is a badly damaged brand.”
Sarimsakci did not respond to a request for comment. In a statement, Trump Hotels denied there had ever been a formal agreement for Sarimsakci to develop hotels with the Scion name.
“This developer made quite a bit of noise about a potential deal and now there is more noise about the possible dissolving of this deal,” the statement said.
Trump Hotels said it had advised Sarimsakci not to pursue the project with the city council.
“It is very common in the hospitality business that some projects do not come to fruition,” the statement said. “That is why we ensure that all opportunities are appropriately vetted and approved before any announcement.”
Trump Hotels announced plans for the Scion brand in September. It is meant to showcase sleek design and appeal to young professionals. The Dallas hotel was expected to cost $50 million to build and open in 2019.
Scion hotels won’t use the Trump name, but Trump critics are making sure that the brand is tied to the president, Kingston said.
Anti-Trump protesters in St. Louis stopped in front of a vacant hotel that Kingston said Sarimsakci had considered developing and chanted, “No to Trump Tower,” according to a report at the time in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“I think every Democratic activist group is going to make sure people know that Scion is a Trump brand,” he said.
Sarimsakci told the Dallas council members that he is looking at different options for partners, Kingston said.