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Serbia Approves Plans For a Hotel With Jared Kushner in Belgrade


The Serbian government has approved a contract with Jared Kushner on plans to build a luxury hotel on the site of the former Defense Department in Belgrade, putting him directly into business with a European country like his father-in-law, Donald Trump. He is vying to return to the White House.

Mr. Kushner is Follow up on the hotel project worth $500 million In partnership with Richard Grinnell. Mr. Grenell, a former Trump administration aide, initially suggested that American investors try to redevelop the vacant, long-bombed site of the former Yugoslav Defense Ministry while Mr. Grenell was still a diplomat, serving as a special envoy to the Balkans.

The deal, which sparked protests in Belgrade on Thursday, was made with an affiliate of Mr. Kushner’s Affinity Partners, the three-year-old. A $3 billion investment fund With support from the Saudi sovereign wealth fund.

“The government of Serbia has selected a prestigious American company as a partner in this project, which will invest in the revitalization of the former Federal Secretariat of National Defense complex,” a Serbian government official said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

NATO forces bombed the complex in 1999, with support from the United States, during the war that Serbia was waging at the time with Kosovo. It is now considered a prime undeveloped real estate site in the middle of a much-changed city that Mr. Trump himself had I thought about building a hotel At the same location in 2013.

For Mr. Kushner, who is also planning two luxury hotel projects in neighboring Albania, these deals in the Balkans are among the largest he has closed since founding his investment firm.

“Serbia’s economic progress over the past decade has been impressive,” Mr. Kushner said in a statement confirming approval of the deal. “This development will elevate Belgrade into the leading international destination it has become.”

Mr. Kushner and his partners plan to build a hotel, retail space and more than 1,500 residential units. The approved plan includes a proposal to build a museum and memorial complex for those injured or killed during NATO bombing. The memorial will be owned and managed by the government, and will be designed “in collaboration with Serbian architects,” Mr. Kushner’s company said in a statement.

Mr. Kushner is working with a long-time real estate partner on the Serbia project, Asher Abehsera, who will oversee the actual development. “Reconstruction is not only about building buildings, but also about building bridges between cultures, respecting the past, and laying the foundation for a prosperous future,” Mr. Abhisera said in a statement.

In its own statement, the Serbian government said it would retain ownership of the site and that the investor group, Affinity Global Development, had a set period of time to complete the project, or the land would be returned to government control.

But the approval of the contract – which includes a 99-year lease and a profit-sharing agreement from the development of the three-block area with the Serbian government – has drawn criticism from opposition leaders in the Serbian parliament, among others.

Protesters blocked traffic in front of the former Defense Department headquarters on Thursday and posted signs questioning the decision, including some that said: “Stop giving the Army Headquarters a gift to American foreign companies.”

Some in Serbia object to the plan because of the United States’ role in the bombing 25 years ago.

“There are those who are trying to clean up the mess they made, and they are not the ones who should be doing anything in this place,” said Dragan Junic, a member of parliament who participated in the protest on Thursday.

The project also caught the attention of House Democrats who asked Republicans on the House Oversight and Accountability Committee to investigate the proposed deals, although there has been no move by Republicans to do so.

“Jared Kushner is seeking new foreign trade deals, just as Donald Trump became the presumptive Republican presidential nominee,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., and Rep. Robert Garcia, D-Calif., Written in MarchAfter the New York Times Details revealed for the first time Of the planned projects.

Mr. Kushner, in an interview, said that as a private citizen he has the right to pursue international real estate and business deals, even if they involve foreign governments.

“One of the reasons I think companies like us as investors is because they know that if Affinity comes in we consider it a kosher brand,” Kushner said in a March interview. “Because again, we are a highly scrutinized company. We operate very professionally.”



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