Let the protests begin: The Trump family is eyeing Austin for one of its new Scion-branded hotels.
The New York Times quotes Eric Trump, the middle son of President Donald Trump, as saying the Trump Organization hopes to build Scion hotels, a lower-price alternative to the upscale Trump International Hotel chain, in large to midsize “trendy” cities like Austin; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Nashville.
After winning the race for the White House, Donald Trump turned over the reins of his real estate empire — including the hotel business — to sons Donald Jr. and Eric. The president still retains an ownership stake in the Trump family businesses.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler isn’t exactly welcoming the possibility of a Trump project with open arms. In a statement to The Huffington Post, Adler said, “This isn’t surprising because Austin is the best city in America to start a business, but I’m not sure the way we do things in Austin is aligned with the Trump brand.”
In January, the Austin Human Rights Commission voted 8-2 to recommend that Austin City Council prohibit city government from using any Trump-branded products or services. The largely symbolic action would not prevent a Trump-driven Scion hotel from being built in Austin.
The New York Times report comes on the heels of a Wall Street Journal report indicating the Trump Organization has signed 17 letters of intent with prospective developers of Scion properties. Those letters of intent cover potential projects in cities such as Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas, Nashville, and New York, according to the Journal. Dallas reportedly will be the first location for a Scion hotel.
As the Journal notes, letters of intent are nonbinding deals that frequently don’t materialize into actual projects.
It’s not clear where Austin’s Scion hotel would be built, but the Journal reported in October that a Trump-envisioned hotel and condo project was on the drawing board for downtown Austin.
The Times subsequently reported that the Austin development would be a $130 million, 33-story project known as the Austin Mirabeau Trump Hotel. A photo published by the Times shows the Mirabeau would go up where a Brick Oven pizza restaurant now stands at Red River and 12th streets.
In October, a Trump Hotels spokeswoman told the Times: “While we do not have confirmed deals nor any investments in Austin, we remain interested in this market from a brand and management standpoint.”
At this point, the status of the Mirabeau project is unclear. The Brick Oven site had been attached to a proposed 24-story hotel called Waterloo Park Tower. However, City of Austin records show the building permit application for Waterloo Park Tower expired in April 2015.
News of the Mirabeau development surfaced shortly after Trump Hotels introduced the millennial-targeted Scion concept; rooms at Scion properties will fetch $200-$300 a night. Scion-branded hotels will not carry the Trump name.
“Trump Hotels has long been recognized as home to the most iconic and luxurious properties, where guests are treated to meticulous service and unparalleled experiences,” Eric Danziger, president of Trump Hotels, said when the Scion brand name was announced in September. “Scion will bring the same ‘never settle’ philosophy to a new and different type of guest in more locations around the globe.”