By Grace Dobush
February 15, 2019

After two years of slow progress, the Trump Organization has officially shelved plans to expand its hotel business in red states.

The two new mid-price hotel chains, Scion and American Idea, were to start in Mississippi and eventually total 39 properties. Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, who have run the business since their father took office in 2017, blamed political attacks and negative media coverage.

“We live in a climate where everything will be used against us, whether by the fake news or by Democrats who are only interested in Presidential harassment and wasting everyone’s time,” Eric Trump said in a statement Thursday.

Though the plans were sweeping, only one deal was actually in action. Businessman Dinesh Shalwa told the Washington Post in January that he had spent spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and the better part of a year reworking the Scion so it would be capable of attracting meetings, concerts and festivals to Cleveland, Miss.

Eventually the 100-room hotel, then half-completed, would be surrounded by 10 other buildings in a complex costing more than $20 million. Chawla estimated then he was going to spend $5 million more than he originally planned. Two of his family’s hotels were going to be renovated to kick off the American Idea brand.

Shalwa said the Trump Organization had officially cut ties with the project this week. “We were together for two years, but I learned so much from them,” Chawla wrote on Facebook. “I’m sorry that they are not with us anymore legally, but we are partners of a different sort—spiritually on this project.”

In their statement, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump said they enjoyed working with the Chawlas and said “their hotel in Cleveland will be an absolutely spectacular project.”

Plans for Scion and American Idea hotels faced opposition in Dallas and St. Louis, the New York Times reports. Trump’s name has become so toxic in some places that the company was paid to remove it from hotels in Toronto and New York.

Trump’s sons indicated they want to restart their plans after their father leaves office. “When politics are over, we will resume doing what we do best which is building the best and most luxurious properties in the world — the interest in the Trump brand has never been stronger,” Donald Trump Jr. said in the statement.

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