City replaces Trump as Central Park rink operator — with Trump pals

Related Cos. and Harris Blitzer Sports, whose principals have ties to the ex-president, will take control

New York /
Jul.July 07, 2021 03:25 PM
Related Companies chairman Stephen Ross and Harris Blitzer Sports CEO Scott O'Neil with Central Park’s Wollman Rink (Getty)

Related Companies chairman Stephen Ross and Harris Blitzer Sports CEO Scott O’Neil with Central Park’s Wollman Rink (Getty)

For corporations and governments intertwined with Donald Trump, cutting ties after the Capital Insurrection has played out a bit like Whac-a-Mole — terminate one connection to the former president and another pops up.

Cushman & Wakefield, for example, told the Washington Post in January it would no longer do business with the Trump Organization, though severing these ties is easier said than done.

It began by vacating its role as an office leasing agent for Trump Tower and 40 Wall Street. Now Cushman is reportedly considering moving out of its New York headquarters at 1290 Sixth Avenue, which the Trump Organization co-owns with Vornado Realty Trust.

Mayor Bill de Blasio made the call to sever the city’s contracts with the Trump Organization in January — at Central Park’s carousel and two ice-skating rinks. He also pried the family moniker off Trump Golf Links, a public course in the Bronx.

On Tuesday, the city revealed the organization it selected to assume operations of Central Park’s Wollman and Lasker Rinks: a joint venture called Wollman Park Partners, the Associated Press reported.

But the winning bidder, a conglomerate that includes Related Companies, Equinox and Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, has lasting connections to Trump.

Related is chaired by Stephen Ross, who hosted a controversial fundraiser for then-President Trump in August 2019. Related also owns a controlling interest in Equinox Group as well as a minority stake in Ladder Capital, a real estate investment trust whose $280 million in loans to various Trump properties in New York are reportedly the subject of a criminal investigation.

“I believe there’s a lot of good, and I believe there’s a lot of bad,” Ross said of the president in an interview with the New York Times last summer, declining to reveal whether he would vote for Trump.

Similarly, the founder of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, Josh Harris, who also founded Apollo Global Management, was an infrastructure adviser to the Trump administration early in Trump’s term. The Times reported Harris met with Jared Kushner and the two discussed a possible role for Harris in the administration. Months later, Apollo lent Kushner Companies $184 million to refinance a Chicago skyscraper.

The other companies in the joint venture, caterer Great Performances and nonprofit Ice Hockey in Harlem, have no recorded associations with Trump.

City officials said the group would reinvest all profits into upgrading the rink, the AP reported.





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