Judge Rules New York Condo Residents Can Remove "Trump Place" Name

Donald Trump White House April 24 2018 - Getty - H 2018
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Some 63 percent of condo owners in the building who responded to an informal survey last year wanted the name removed.

The name "Trump Place" can be taken off a New York condominium high-rise if owners vote to do so, a judge ruled Thursday.

The ruling doesn't order the big, brassy letters removed from the 46-story luxury tower overlooking the Hudson River. Rather, the decision clears the way for an owners' vote on displaying the name licensed from President Donald Trump nearly two decades ago.

Trump's company has said Trump Place is obligated to keep the name on view and signaled Thursday that it plans to press on.

"While we respect [Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Eileen] Bransten's ruling, we are confident that the appeals court will conclude otherwise," the Trump Organization said in a statement.

The owners' lawyer, Harry Lipman, declined to comment. It's unclear when they might vote on the issue, which came up as a number of other buildings removed the real estate developer turned president's name after his 2016 election.

Trump licensed his name in 2000 to the skyscraper at 200 Riverside Blvd., built as part of a redevelopment of former rail yards on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

But the moniker apparently became controversial among residents as Trump ascended to the presidency. A Republican, he came far from winning his heavily Democratic home city.

Owners in the 377-unit building broached concerns about security and marketability, but also about the potential legal and other costs of removing Trump's name, according to minutes of a May 2017 condo meeting.

They say that real estate brokers differed on whether the name hurt, helped or didn't affect the apartments' appeal, while police advised it didn't make the building a significant terror target.

Still, some 63 percent of owners who responded to an informal survey last year wanted the name removed, according to the minutes.

Trump's lawyers said the licensing agreement required the display of his name.

"The condominium has always been, and remains, obligated to use the Trump name on the building; it was part of the original deal going back several decades," attorney Lawrence Rosen said in January. He said the board had "acted prematurely and improperly" in asking a court to decide whether the name could be removed without having had a formal vote on the issue.

The judge said the license agreement allows, but doesn't require, the use of Trump's name.

"That simply is not what the document says," Bransten said in delivering her ruling, according to The Washington Post.

Trump's name already has been removed from three nearby rental buildings, but remains on other towers in the same development.

The owners of hotels in Manhattan's Soho neighborhood and in Toronto also have removed the Trump name from their buildings during the past year. It also was taken off a hotel in Panama City amid a dispute between the hotel owners and the Trump Organization, which contends it was wrongly fired as managers.

Many other hotels, golf clubs, residential buildings and other properties around the world continue to flaunt the Trump name.