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NEW YORK -- Trump Tower, once the crown jewel in Donald Trump's property empire, now ranks as one of the least desirable luxury properties in Manhattan.

The 36-year-old building has been turned into a fortress since Trump won the presidency, ringed with concrete barriers and the two main entrances partially blocked off. It hasn't been substantially updated in years.

For anyone who owns a unit in the tower, the past two years have been brutal. Most condo sales have led to a loss after adjusting for inflation, property records show. Several sold at more than a 20% loss. By contrast, across Manhattan, just 0.23% of homes over the past two years sold at a loss, according to PropertyShark, a real-estate data provider.

It's all a far cry from the days when the New York landmark attracted the likes of Michael Jackson, Johnny Carson and Steven Spielberg.

While some corners of Trump's business empire have thrived, such as his Washington, D.C., hotel, others have suffered from sagging popularity ratings. Rounds of golf are down at his public course in New York, a clutch of once Trump-branded buildings have torn his name off their fronts, and an ambitious plan for a new midtier hotel chain across the country fizzled.

Trump is scheduled to provide an updated snapshot of his net worth this week, with his annual financial disclosures due today. The documents won't go into detail about the Trump Organization's revenue, but it's clear that Trump Tower is suffering, based on securities filings, property records, real estate listings, and interviews with industry insiders.

The commercial portion of the building has been struggling for months to find tenants for more than 42,000 square feet of vacant office space, despite advertising rents well below the area's average, listings and data from real estate brokers show.

On any given midweek afternoon, the number of government and Trump Organization security personnel rivaled the number of other people inside the building's atrium.

Trump Tower's occupancy rate has plunged over the past seven years to 83% from 99%, giving it a vacancy rate that's about twice Manhattan's average.

"If I were looking for office space, that would be a building I'd want to avoid," said Edward Son, until recently a market analyst for CoStar Group Inc.

Net income slightly rose last year, boosted by the tenancy of his 2020 campaign committee, which has spent more than $890,000 over the past two years to rent space in Trump Tower, according to Federal Election Commission records.

The building's net income is still about 26% lower than what bankers expected when they evaluated Trump's fitness for a $100 million loan in 2012. Even so, Trump Tower regularly produces an annual profit for its namesake. Last year, the building generated $10 million in net cash flow, after taking into account its annual $4.3 million interest payment on the loan, according to Trump Organization disclosures.

The Trump Organization didn't respond to requests for comment.

Condo owners hoping to run into the president on occasion have been disappointed. While Trump ran his presidential campaign out of the high-rise, he's only visited 13 times since his inauguration, according to a count from NBC News.

Michael Sklar sold his parents' 57th floor unit for $1.83 million in October after they spent $400,000 to remodel the property. His family purchased it for $1.4 million in 2004, which comes out to $1.84 million after adjusting for inflation.

"No one wants in that building," Sklar said.

After Trump's election, living in his tower became a hassle, Sklar said. His mother, who was battling cancer, took cabs to the building from the airport, and she used to be dropped off right in front of the entrance. After the election, security personnel would force her cabdriver to drop her off a few hundred feet from the front door, requiring a long and painful walk home.

Business on 05/15/2019

Print Headline: Glory fading at Trump Tower in NYC


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