Fed Up With Sagging Prices, Owners of Trump-Branded Condos Push for Name Change

Trump Palace Condominiums - Google Map-Screen Shot-H 2017
Courtesy of Google Maps

A former partner at Goldman Sachs is mounting an effort to remove the name "Trump" from one of his marquee towers in New York City to boost property values.

Since Donald Trump took office as U.S. president, the value of condos and apartments inside Trump-branded buildings in New York City have plummeted, which has some homeowners inside those buildings looking for a change — a change in name.

Over the past month, a letter has been circulating among owners of apartments at Trump Palace at 200 East 69th Street seeking consensus on whether it would be best to remove the name "Trump" from the building in an effort to boost property values.

"This problem is real and will not go away anytime soon," reads the letter that was authored by Laurence Weiss (and obtained by The Hollywood Reporter). Weiss, who has owned a unit in the building since 2003, says that he has been trying to sell his apartment in the tower for the past two years. The price of his 3,600-square-foot, four-bedroom, 4.5-bath penthouse unit has dropped from an evaluation of $15 million two years ago to its current listing price of 8.9 million. His letter reads: "We, the owners, can change the name if 2/3 of us agree. I am asking you to support my effort to remove the name Trump from the building and change the legal name from 'Trump Palace Condominium' to '200 E 69th St. Condominium.' I understand that for some this is a complicated issue. For me, it's only business. Our homes are worth more without the Trump name."

Trump Palace is a 55-story brick residential tower that stands out for its multiple terraced setbacks and large jutting balconies on the Upper East Side. Built in 1991, the building has 277 units that range from studio apartments to full-floor penthouses with 360-degree views.

News of the letter was first reported by Keith Olbermann on a recent episode of his GQ video series The Resistance. Last year, Olbermann sold his own 1,750-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment in Trump Palace. And even though he took a $400,000 hit on what he originally paid in 2007, he famously quipped on Twitter: "I got out with 90% of my money and 100% of my soul!"

An analysis by THR conducted last November revealed that pricing was increasingly soft at Trump Tower. A similar dynamic appears to be taking place at Trump Palace. Of the 18 current listings for units there, seven have seen recent price reductions. Take unit 18D, a one-bedroom unit with 874 square feet and a southern exposure. That apartment has seen two price reductions (totaling 18 percent) and remains unsold after 520 days on the market.

Brokers argue that a glut of luxury condos in New York City may also be contributing to the drop-off in prices, but market research suggests otherwise. According to the most recent Elliman Report, the average sales price of luxury units climbed 12.8 percent year over year. The average unit for sale in Trump Palace has been on the market for 107 days, roughly 35 percent shorter than the average luxury unit measured in the same Elliman Report.

Weiss, who is a former partner at Goldman Sachs and is now retired and has since moved to Los Angeles, says he sent out 260 letters and has received only 56 responses: 32 in favor of the name change and 24 opposed to it. Because of the slow response, he is not holding out much hope and chalks it up to a mix of fear and affection for the building's management company, which he says has been excellent. "I am as embarrassed as anyone to be associated with Trump, but if it is affecting my property values, I said, why not try?" he stated.