TRD talks Trump Tower Chicago’s empty retail on WGN

70K sf space has been vacant for a decade
March 28, 2019 03:00PM

Trump Tower Chicago (Credit: Getty Images)

The Real Deal’s Alex Nitkin appeared on WGN Radio’s Opening Bell Thursday to discuss his investigation into the decade-long retail vacancy at Trump Tower Chicago.

Nitkin and TRD’s Joe Ward wrote a story examining how the tower has landed just one small retail tenant since it opened in 2009, with a 70,000-square-foot deck space having never signed a single tenant. He attributed the retail space’s performance – among the worst in the history of Chicago’s retail market – partly to its location and design.

“The design, the location, the way it’s laid out — it’s just hard to get customers there,” Nitkin said. “It is below grade. You have to go down some stairs to get to it. There are some giant pillars that sort of block the site.”

Host Steve Grzanich asked Nitkin if there was any chance the Trump Organization was keeping the retail space vacant to pay lower taxes on it, but Nitkin said the numbers for this didn’t work out, at least for last year.

“It’s also hard to believe that the Trump Organization would want to have such an incredibly visible sign of failure at the same time,” he said. “It’s hard to believe that that is a bargain that they would want to make.”

Nitkin also discussed whether the Trump family name had too many negative connotations at this point for the retail space to find a tenant, especially in a Democrat-heavy city like Chicago.

“The Trump brand could have a kind of stigma in a city where the guy got 13 percent of the vote in the 2016 election, but it’s hard to say exactly how much that really factors into it,” he said. [WGN] – Eddie Small