The Daily Dirt: Why de-Trumping a condo is so hard

Trump World Tower service is good but overpriced, angry residents claim

Daily Dirt: The Attempt to De-Trump an East Side Condo
Donald Trump with Eric Trump and Don Trump Jr. (Getty; Illustration by Kevin Rebong for The Real Deal)

“It’s like Russia. The opposition is either killed, thrown in jail or exiled. To use Trump’s words, the whole thing is rigged.”

That was one unit owner’s humorously exaggerated description of condo board governance at Trump World Tower.

He and a few others are trying to strip the East Side building of Trump’s name, which they claim depresses its value, but have been easily outmaneuvered by the Trump family, as The Real Deal’s Orion Jones has reported.

“There’s no way we can even get a slate [of condo board candidates] because we don’t know that many people,” the insurgent lamented when he pitched the story. That’s true for most big Manhattan buildings, but we appreciate the honesty.

Among his complaints was that the condo board has increased spending on security since Donald Trump’s election in 2016. As he put it: “They hire out-of-shape, retired cops who couldn’t scare anyone.”

But he said service in the Trump-managed building is excellent. That’s not something reporters normally hear from owners trying to overthrow a condo regime.

“The building is good. It’s very well run, and the staff is good,” he said.

It is coming at a cost, however. The owner said common charges for a 2,100-square-foot unit are $3,500, which doesn’t even pay for property taxes, unlike at a co-op. “There’s a lot of fluff built into the fees for Trump management,” he claimed.

After getting wind of the dissidents’ effort, the board called a meeting for the first time in years, but couldn’t get a quorum. The idea was to hold an election before a viable challenge could be mounted.

But it’s unlikely that such a a challenge will ever happen. Many unit owners don’t seem to care enough to get involved. Many don’t even live in the building or are foreign governments who just like having a pad near the United Nations.

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Above all, the anti-Trump faction seems to lack a coherent strategy. Overthrowing the board will take a lot more than colorful quotes.

What we’re thinking about: If former Silverstein Properties executive Janno Lieber were to resign as CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in light of congestion pricing’s cancellation, would he be snapped up by a real estate firm? Email me at

A thing we’ve learned: New zoning is needed for the city to build housing and retail on the 122 acres of Brooklyn waterfront it obtained from the Port Authority in a historic land swap. But the Adams administration doesn’t yet know if it will go through the City Council or Albany to get it. The state route involves a general project plan; Atlantic Yards was approved that way, but a West Side stadium was rejected and Amazon’s HQ2 was headed for defeat when it was withdrawn.


— If the name Zalmen Wagschal sounds familiar, either you saw Suzannah Cavanaugh’s excellent story last year about the owner of Brooklyn walk-ups (“The rise and fall of a ‘worst landlord’”) or you’re a close reader of the public advocate’s “worst landlords” list. Wagschal’s latest problem is 1365-1369 Saint Johns Place, a 16-unit apartment complex he owns in Crown Heights. A trust headed by Wilmington Savings Fund Society filed a complaint alleging Wagschal defaulted on a $7 million loan, secured a forbearance agreement from the lender, then broke the terms of the deal. TRD researcher Christian Bautista spotted the lawsuit.

— Critics of Local Law 97, the city statute capping carbon emissions at large buildings, are fundraising for a 501(c)(4) called New Yorkers for Affordable, Reliable Energy. Its leaders have professional backgrounds in the field or are co-op owners who believe the law sets unrealistic standards for their buildings. “We plan to inject this issue into the next election cycle,” said a former lobbyist doing media outreach for the group, which claims to have hundreds of thousands of Queens owners and aims to expand to Brooklyn and the Bronx.
— Upstate New York’s pre-eminent columnist, Chris Churchill, recently opined about opposition to a housing development planned in Delmar. “Part of me wishes it could stay that way forever,” he said of the street where the project would go. But then he made a compelling argument for building: “When we argue against new housing in our neighborhoods, we are, in effect, arguing for more expensive housing,” he wrote. “Usually, it’s those of us who have a piece of the American dream making it harder for those who don’t.”

Closing Time

Residential: The priciest residential sale Tuesday was $4.2 million for a 2,031-square-foot co-op at 450 Washington Street in Tribeca. The Corcoran Group had the listing. 

Commercial: The largest commercial sale of the day was $16 million for a one-story retail building at 2837 Coney Island Avenue in Sheepshead Bay.

New to the Market: The highest price for a residential property hitting the market was $22 million for a 5,956-square-foot condominium at 25 Park Row in the Financial District. Tinnie Sassano of Compass has the listing.

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