The Real Deal New York

Will Westchester see a Trump bump?

The developer owns or manages several properties in the county

January 01, 2017
By Bryan Virasami

Donald Trump

Global uncertainty is high about President-elect Donald Trump’s agenda. But in Westchester, regardless of what side of the political fence they’re on, real estate professionals hope that having Trump in the White House will be good for their business.

Local real estate insiders express varying degrees of optimism about Trump’s potential impact on the real estate market in Westchester. He owns or manages properties in the county including the private Trump National Golf Club and the Seven Springs mansion in Bedford, which has been described as a Trump summer family retreat.

Tony Mazzulli, an executive director at Keller Williams Commercial who specializes in investment sales in Westchester, said some of his clients are making postelection decisions based on the high hopes they have for the Trump presidency.

“I am very bullish on Westchester, first of all because of the millennial migration. But with him I also feel consumer confidence is a lot higher,” Mazzulli said. “He’s going to impart a lot of different rules and regulations to help the real estate market.”

Longtime developer Louis Cappelli has had a personal and professional relationship with Trump for more than 20 years. Together they have built several luxury properties in Westchester and Fairfield counties, including the Trump Tower at City Center in White Plains and Trump Plaza in New Rochelle. Trump’s company manages those properties.

Cappelli is enthusiastic about Trump. “Donald is a dynamic, pragmatic, no-nonsense man who I believe will do everything he can to improve the stature and economy of the country over the life of his term. He is highly driven and prides himself on being surrounded by intelligent, capable people, which I think we are currently witnessing,”  Cappelli said.

Despite his optimism on Trump’s overall impact, he doesn’t think Trump’s presidency will have any effect on his Westchester properties. “They have already performed incredibly well, and I don’t imagine the outcome of the election will affect them one way or another,” he said.

While Trump’s properties might not be impacted, Zachary Harrison, president and co-founder of Platinum Drive Realty — which handles properties in Westchester, Manhattan and Connecticut — said Trump’s victory has had some very practical implications for real estate.

A client in Manhattan, who he said identified herself as a Hillary Clinton supporter, called after the election to seek his help to find a place in the suburbs. “She basically said she was looking to get out of the city to avoid the Trump traffic and all the security detail and all the cars.”

At the same time, a high-income executive in finance who favored Trump and is anticipating a nice tax cut made up his mind and signed off on a property he was considering because of Trump. “He was basically very bullish on Trump,” said Harrison.

Few real estate executives were willing to express any critical views of Trump, and those who did were reluctant to do so on the record. One well-known real estate investor and developer in the tri-state area, who asked not to be named, expressed reservations about Trump’s lack of clarity about his plans, as well as his campaign talk about restricting immigration and trade.

Although Westchester residents voted overwhelmingly in support of Clinton, it seems many have something in common with Trump: a disdain for high property taxes. And Westchester has the distinction of having the highest property taxes in the U.S.

Trump TRData LogoTINY, who has said he’s proud of his ability to find tax loopholes, is headed to court with the Town of Ossining over the tax assessment on his golf course. In campaign filings this year, Trump declared the value at $50 million, but his lawyers later claimed it was only worth $1.4 million.

After the feud with Ossining became public, Trump’s lawyers raised the dollar value of the golf course, but it was still nowhere near the official 2015 assessment of $14.3 million and 2016 assessed value of $15.1 million, said the town assessor, Fernando Gonzalez. He said the case is pending and is expected to go to court soon.

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