/Cleveland hoteliers moving forward without Trump, keeping $6 million in tax breaks

Cleveland hoteliers moving forward without Trump, keeping $6 million in tax breaks

Trump Organization, the company that President Donald Trump started and is now managed by his children, attributed the decision to withdraw from a Mississippi partnership to the political climate. In a statement, Eric Trump, the son of the president, said that everything is being used against him, including fake news and Democrats who only want to harass the president and waste everyone’s time, or barrage us with nonsense mails. “We already possess the greatest properties in this world, and even if it means slowing down our growth, we are willing to do so.” Dinesh Chawla, a Delta native and chief executive officer of the Chawla Hotel Group, announced in June 2017 that his company would partner with Trump Organization in order to bring their Scion Hotel chain in Cleveland. Chawla announced on Facebook nearly a year later that the company’s partnership was ending. He wrote, “The Trump Hotel Group”: “A kickass, top-notch group of professionals.” “I am sorry they are no longer legal partners with us, but we are still partners in this project of a different spirit. Amazing TEAM. It was an honor to work with them,” Chawla wrote. Chawla clarified that the hotel will open in fall 2019 and that there is no financial hardship. Chawla did not respond to a phone call Thursday night to discuss the Trumps’ decision to cancel their expansion plans. The Trump-Chawla Partnership has been in the news for a while. It was notable because the Chawlas received a $6 million tax cut from the Mississippi Development Authority. This could have directly benefited the current president. Melissa Scallan, spokesperson for the Mississippi Development Authority said that if the hotel is built, even without Trump’s name, developers could be eligible for up to $6million in state funds over a number of years to pay for construction costs through the Tourism Rebate Incentive Program. The state rebates developers a portion the hotel’s sales tax once it is operational. To be eligible for the rebate program, a hotel investment must exceed $15 million. The program allows for a maximum of 30% return on “eligible capital investments”. Scallan stated that the hotel is still eligible for the tax rebate because it applies to Chawlas Pointe and not Trump Hotels. The sales tax rebate program was created for tourism projects. It has been used for many other hotels and tourism projects, most notably the Trustmark Park in Pearl, where the Mississippi Braves are professional baseball players. Shopping malls have also been benefited from the incentive program. The office Gov. did not respond to requests for comment. Phil Bryant (a close Trump ally) oversees MDA but was not able to respond. According to minutes of the 2016 Board of Aldermen, two years prior to receiving the tax break, the Chawlas had also been approved by Cleveland to receive the historic tax abatement program. The Chawlas are exempted from paying ad valorem tax on their property for seven years under this tax abatement program (not including school district and ad valorem). Trump’s Mississippi business interests have had a series of stops and starts since the Cleveland hotel scandal. This is just the latest. According to The Sun Herald, Trump convinced local officials in 1993 to lease him 4.5 acres and give him a license for a casino in Gulfport measuring 35,000 square feet. We’re going do a really amazing job. Trump stated to the gaming commission that he believed the site would be available within two years. The project was never realized, as were several other projects that were widely covered due to their closeness to the celebrity billionaire. Trump Entertainment Resorts and Diamondhead Casino Corp. signed letters to intent to build a 40-acre casino resort and casino near Diamondhead, more than a decade after the Gulfport casino collapse. We are excited by the opportunity to bring the Trump brand to Gulf Coast and we hope to work with both private and public entities to redevelop the region. In a press release, James B. Perry, chief operating officer of Trump Entertainment stated that the deal was a great chance to create value for the company, shareholders, and citizens of Mississippi. Trump also pulled out from the Diamondhead deal. Dinesh Chawla, his brother Suresh and one other hotel owner in the Delta own 19 of them. One Clarksdale hotel was recently partnered with Coahoma College to establish a workforce development program. Local leaders and property developers claim they don’t worry about Trump’s hotel closing and that it does not signal economic doom. To be completely honest, I don’t believe it will make any difference. The Chawlas are a very successful family in the hotel business. Henry Mosco, the owner of the strip mall located across the hotel site, said that he believes they will succeed with the same plans that existed before Trumps became involved. “I am getting people to contact me about finding different franchises in that area. It’s exciting. It doesn’t matter who owns it, as long as it’s running.” The Chawla hotel is located at the west end Cleveland off Highway 8. Construction is underway for the Cotton House, a luxury hotel with 95 rooms that will carry the Marriott Tribute name in downtown Cleveland. The mayor of Cleveland, Billy Nowell, stated that both the hotel projects will be a benefit to the community regardless of Trump’s involvement. He said, “I’m just excited for all the things that can be done.” Others in the community noted that Trump’s defection is better than the Trump hotel. Maurice Smith, member of the board and superintendent of North Bolivar Consolidated Schools District, said that “I believe it could be an opportunity to bless.” “I don’t believe the Trump brand was adding much to the hotel. It could have been a problem.” Help us continue our important work by making a regular donation to the Spring Member Drive.