DALLAS (CN) – President Donald Trump’s company on Thursday backed out of a Dallas hotel project with a Turkish-born developer with wide-ranging international ties, alluding to “noise” and scrutiny over the deal.
The Trump Organization said it told California-based developer Mike Sarimsakci to stop pursuing a deal with the Dallas City Council.
“This developer made quite a bit of noise about a potential deal and there is more noise about the possible dissolving of this deal,” the Trump Organization said in a statement. “It is very common in the hospitality business that some projects do not come to fruition. That is why we ensure that all opportunities are appropriately vetted and approved before any announcement.”
Turkish-born Sarimsakci signed a letter of intent with Trump’s company to build a Scion brand hotel on Young Street in south Dallas. The new brand is aimed at younger customers with lower prices than Trump’s flagship luxury hotels.
Sarimsakci’s company, Alterrra Worldwide, is based in Dallas. Its website listed the Dallas hotel as “under development” Friday morning and showed renderings of a sleek, six-story hotel with a glass façade, large rooftop swimming pool and street-level shops.
City Councilman Philip Kingston, a vocal opponent of the project, said public opposition played a role in Sarimsakci’s dropping out of the deal.
“Dallas is a very blue city,” Kingston, a Democrat, told CNNMoney on Thursday. “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 told the council he will explore other options for partners in the project, Kingston said.
The deal faced growing scrutiny last month when The New York Times reported that Sarimsakci’s company had extensive foreign ties in more than two dozen countries, including Russia and Kazakhstan.
Calling himself the “Turkish Trump,” Sarimsakci is advertised on a consulting website as a consultant for business deals in Iran, Mexico and Nigeria. He acknowledged that he has counseled governments in Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan, Sudan and Georgia, among others, on renewable energy, The Times reported.
Such vast foreign interests are typically a selling point for companies looking to partner on a deal, but become an issue for a company owned by a sitting U.S. president who may be accused of having conflicts of interest.