How terrorism snatched Bengaluru’s Trump Tower…

If it wasn’t for Ajmal Kasab and his pack of fidayeens that laid siege to Mumbai on November 26, 2008, a 47-floor Trump Tower would have probably dominated Bengaluru’s cityscape, right here from Residency Road. A four-member delegation of senior officials from The Trump Organisation was on its way to Mumbai to meet with a Bengaluru-based real estate marketing consultant when international media started beaming footages of the Mumbai terror attack.

Terrified by the visuals, and by the news that Hotel Oberoi — where they were booked in during the stay — was also attacked, the delegation immediately cancelled the plan and returned. Donald Trump might have adopted the most aggressive stance against terrorism on poll podiums, but his organisation reportedly developed cold feet after 26/11 attack. It was only after a couple of years that it started reconsidering investing in Indian real estate that finally led to the two Trump Projects in Mumbai and Pune.

The Bengaluru project was one of the top priorities of Ivanka Trump, Trump’s daughter and executive vice-president of The Trump Organisation, back in 2008, before it was shelved.

“The team had reached London and was about to board a connecting flight to Mumbai when they started receiving news about the attack. Initially, they were not convinced that India could have the skill and scope to have skyscrapers matching the stature of Trump Towers. So, we were to survey some high-rises in Mumbai before heading to Bengaluru. The footage, plus the fact that they were booked in Oberoi hotel on the same dates as the attack, all worked against us. They feared that a Trump tower would be a potential target. It took almost five years for them to enter the Indian market and ironically that too in Mumbai,” said Amit Bagaria, founding chairman and CEO, Asipac Projects Pvt Ltd, the real estate expert the delegation was set to meet in 2008.

Speaking to media, Bagaria pointed out that the Trump delegation formally informed them that they were not in a position to go ahead with the project in February 2009. The project was being discussed and conceptualised under the working title Bangalore 47, since it was supposed to be a 47-storeyed serviced apartment tower with a restaurant, a rooftop swimming pool and other amenities, on the Brigade Road- Residency Road interjection opposite the Opera House.

The total cost of the project back in 2008 was estimated to be around Rs 140 crore and the plot size was around one acre and process was underway to relocate some commercial operations on the plot.

“Initially, The Trump Organisation was inclined towards Mumbai, but after multiple meetings with Ivanka Trump, they zeroed in on Bengaluru — the emerging city in South India. There were two Bengaluru-based employees in The Trump Organisation in New York and they also pitched in for their city. “The organisation seems to take serious note of the suggestions and recommendations of its employees,” Bagaria added.

During the New York meetings with Ivanka, Bagaria and city-based architect Tom Thomas, finalised an initial blueprint of the building. Bagaria also recollected that while Ivanka gave them a tour of some of the floors on Trump HQ, they bumped into Donald Trump while coming out of the elevator with a couple of his employees. “Ivanka introduced us as the team from India in connection with the Bengaluru project and he gave us a firm handshake and wished us luck,” he said.

Contrary to the political views of her father on issues of ‘colour’, Ivanka had told them that they wanted the building to be in black as it would enhance it as standout structure in the city. Ambitious like her father, though, she was clear that the Trump Tower should be the highest building in the city and should be the biggest landmark. “We had to convince her that black will not work in India because it is considered an unlucky colour. The Trumps had specific demand which said that the marketing brochures of their projects to the doormats and bathroom tiles used in the interiors be directly approved by them,” said Bagaria.

The organisation generally entrusts the interior décor to Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA), a global giant in the sector involved in shaping the interiors of Mukesh Ambani’s residential skyscraper, Antilla, in Mumbai. In 2011, The Trump Organisation tried to enter into Mumbai real estate with a major project developer in Mumbai by taking over a tenant-occupied project, but it came to a cropper since a 65-year-old lady refused to vacate premises despite a one-and-half-year-long legal battle.

Bagaria said it was only later they successfully signed a deal with Lodha Group for the Trump Tower in Mumbai. Speaking to media, Rajatha Shivkumar, owner of the plot where the Bengaluru Trump Tower would have come up, confirmed that the project was almost finalised before it fell through more than five years ago.

The parties involved in the project also indicated that arrangements were in place for getting all mandatory clearances for the project from the government and civic authorities. Apart from Asipac Projects, another city-based property consultant firm, Synergy Property Development Services, was involved in the shelved Bengaluru 47 Trump Tower project.

Mirror was unable to get in touch with The Trump Organisation through its website as it was down.

Credits Bangalore Mirror

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