Each 6,000-sq-ft, five-bedroom apartment cost a whopping 150m rupees ($2.2m) – around 25% more than similar properties in the surrounding Kalyani Nagar neighborhood, just because of Trump’s name. On subsequent trips to India, Trump told reporters that Trump Towers would be “good for India”.
Construction work at Trump Towers Pune is well under way, but two years on from that glitzy launch, the project is the subject of two investigations by the state government and local police, after discrepancies were found in documents related to the land on which the luxury apartment block is being built. Saurabh Rao, the district collector (or top administrative officer) for Pune state, told the Guardian, “We are currently in the investigation process. We have been conducting an inquiry for the last five or six months.” The results of the investigation are due to be published imminently, Rao said. The land on which Trump Towers Pune is built was originally the property of Sir Jehangir Gandhi, an industrialist who left his estate to his children. They were only able to claim a fraction of the land, because of legislation passed in 1976 to prevent large swaths of land acquired during the British Raj staying in the hands of rich families.
According to Rao, “the land passed through various hands and eventually reached Panchshil, or a company that is definitely related to Panchshil.” Rao says the investigation began after a complaint was made by local builder Ravi Bharate, who used India’s Right to Information Act to obtain documents related to building permissions on the land.
Bharate has questioned the permission documents, saying that the unique order number on the documents actually corresponds to a different property. In a telephone interview with the Guardian, Rao confirmed that there were irregularities, saying: “There are definitely two different files [with the same number]. Usually it never happens that there are two files with the same number.”
Police inspector Sanjay Patil, who conducted a primary inquiry into the complaint, said: “The investigation is ongoing. We are waiting for various department heads to reply to our requests for more information.”
In a statement to the Guardian, Panchshil said the “title of the said property was duly verified through our solicitors and to the best of our knowledge all the approvals taken in respect of the said project are legal and valid”.
The Trump Organization has not invested any money in the Pune project, and the property is not owned, developed or being sold by it. Trump’s major contribution to the project is his name, which according to the presidential candidate is his prize asset, worth billions of dollars. This is not unusual for the Trump Organization, which has made about $74m from real estate licensing deals.
Trump has built his personal brand – and his presidential bid – around his supposedly unbeatable business acumen. But Trump has not used his name on a US real estate project since the hotel-condominium project Trump SoHo in 2007, preferring instead to license projects in other countries. His efforts to enter the Indian market have not gone smoothly. Trump’s first attempt was with a company called Rohan Lifescapes, which announced plans for Trump Tower Mumbai. Billed as Mumbai’s latest luxury landmark, the project eventually fell apart, and in 2013, Trump walked out of the deal.
The following year, Trump made a new deal to build Trump Tower Mumbai with the Lodha group. Speaking at the launch of the new Mumbai project, Trump told a reporter from New Delhi Television: “We know what we’re doing in real estate. Some of these names, they’re like celebrity name or celebrity whatever – might be fashion names. But they know nothing about construction. They know nothing about concrete and glass. I know everything about those things.”(Reproduced Courtesy of “The Guardian’)