Real estate mogul Donald Trump plans to build one of his trademark skyscraper towers in Georgia, the country’s presidential office has announced. In a telephone interview with EurasiaNet.org, Trump's special counsel, Michael Cohen, confirmed that a letter of intent has been signed with property developer The Silk Road Group. The Trump Organization expects the deal to close by the end of the year, he said.
Georgia's Rustavi-2 television station on September 22 broadcast footage of Trump meeting with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, Economic Development Minister Vera Kobalia and Silk Road Group co-founder Giorgi Ramishvili in his office in New York City.
Rustavi-2 claimed that the Trump building will built in downtown Tbilisi, near the city’s new Radisson Hotel. The area, which overlooks the city’s Mtkvari River, has already been cleared of rundown townhouses.
Cohen did not elaborate about the project's location or the expected size of the investment. The statement posted on the presidential administration's website, however, said that the project could be placed in Tbilisi, the Black Sea resort town of Batumi or the Acharan village of Bobokvati.
Echoing the wish of other government officials, Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava expressed the hope that the investment will help pique interest from other US businessmen in Georgia, a country that heavily relies on foreign investment.
But Trump was impressed not only by real estate development opportunities in Georgia.
Rustavi-2 showed the billionaire pointing out a magazine picture of the Georgian entrant in the 2010 Miss Universe beauty pageant, Nanuka Gogichaishvili, to Saakashvili and exclaiming at her beauty. "So why didn't she win?" asked Trump, who runs the pageant as a joint venture with NBC Universal. Amidst appreciative laughter, Saakashvili then introduced Trump to one of his press assistants, who appeared to be Gogichaishvili’s mother.
[Molly Corso in Tbilisi added reporting to this blog post. ]
Sign up for Eurasianet's free weekly newsletter.