The Trump Tower in Manhattan is much like its owner Donald Trump — old, cheap, and in decline. The building has also been a fraud center since 1983. And now the building has caught the interest of New York Attorney General [AG] Letitita James’ investigators who are pursuing a $250,000 civil suit. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg may be interested, too. Maybe.
The ex-president lied about the building’s rental space square footage and the size of the penthouse where Trump has lived when he was not living in the White House. In fact, 2015 audio recordings showed that the ex-president was part of the commercial valuation process, according to The Forbes magazine.
A Trump Organization spokesperson released a statement calling the AG’s charges “Utterly baseless and a complete overreach:”
‘The attorney general’s attempt to interfere with private loan transactions between sophisticated business parties is utterly baseless and a complete overreach. Not only was there never a loan default, but all the loans are either current or have been completely paid back in full in the ordinary course of business. Indeed, all of the Wall Street banks that issued these loans profited handsomely.’
When Trump Tower opened in 1978, Trump called. it:
‘[T]he most successful real estate development of recent times.’
The ex-president estimated the Tower’s incoming profit and later told The New York Times that he used a sophisticated accountant. Trump said:
‘The apartments will bring in $268 million, all profit.’
The sales of all of Tower’s apartments netted Trump $168 million. The building also contained “retail and office space:”
‘Trump bought out Equitable in 1986, leaving himself with the base of the building, which housed both retail and office space, including some he used for his own firm.’
The previous president tried to woo Forbes by inviting its top people to the Tower, which is his primary money maker. All this to find his name among Forbes’ 400 Richest People list:
‘Trump says $275 million. He maintained ownership of the commercial space on the ground floors. Trump says that portion throws off $18 million a year.’
Of course, that was a bald-faced lie. When underwriters examined the Towers books, they discovered this building only brought in around $6.3 million net and was worth just $65 million. Former Trump employee who oversaw the Tower’s construction, Barbara Res, said:
‘I had a laugh. I mean, it didn’t seem like he had the kind of money he claimed he had.’
The former White House resident bragged that his penthouse was around 30,000 square feet. In reality, it was just a third of that size, 11,000 square feet:
‘That lie became a key piece of evidence in both the attorney general’s case and the district attorney’s investigation. Strangely, no one seems to have drilled down on the fact that Trump also was throwing out inconsistent numbers for the square footage of the building’s commercial space, which is far more valuable than the penthouse.’
The former POTUS claimed under 200,000 square feet of rental property:
‘Trump signed his name to one document that suggests there were less than 200,000 rentable square feet. But records connected to a loan say 215,000 square feet. A prospectus for a different loan counts 244,000. A city filing lists 257,000 square feet, citing a different document, which in fact says far fewer. Then there’s a Trump statement.’
At the end of 2006, Gucci came to Trump Tower:
‘[A]s part of a massive deal that brought in more than $15 million of rent a year on average. Profits surged to $16 million by 2010, according to lending records. Two years later, Trump took advantage of falling interest rates and refinanced the property.’
Rental profits went up:
‘[[R]eplacing $27 million of debt with a $100 million loan, reducing his rate from 7.4% to 4.2% in the process…[Trump got] $68 million tax-free. that lists the retail space at 114,000 square feet.
‘That portion of Trump Tower measures 235,000 square feet, and a footnote explains that 53,000 of those square feet cover common elements like elevators, public restrooms, mechanical areas, outdoor patios and a sewer pit.’
Take away Trump’s common space, and the former president had only 182,000 square feet. But for the purpose of property taxes, Trump’s company showed the total square footage as 234,000 square feet. And indeed, it claimed vacancies when in reality, the Tower’s owner used that vacant” space:
‘Tax documents from 2009 and 2010, obtained via a freedom of information request, listed 234,000 square feet in the property but said 45,000, or 19%, of those square feet were sitting vacant. Subsequent filings, for the years between 2011 and 2017, maintained that about 11% to 22% of the property sat empty.’
The investigations continue.
Gloria Christie is a political journalist for the liberal online newspaper The Bipartisan Report. Find her here on Facebook. Or at Three White Lions, her book written in her own unique style with a twist of humor on Amazon Kindle Vella and the Gloria Christie Three White Lions podcast on Apple, Spotify, Amazon Music, etc. Christie’s Mueller Report Adventures In Bite-Sizes a real-life compelling spy mystery (in progress).