Sep 4, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Trump nears deal for D.C. hotel

Trump hotel in DC

Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Former President Trump is in advanced talks to sell rights to his Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: The removal of Trump’s big, golden name from Pennsylvania Avenue would be a symbolic bombshell savored by opponents.

  • The historic building became a prop and symbol for both sides in the political wars.
  • The hotel was a central setting during his chaotic presidency, with Trump preening at his personal table, and supporters and supplicants thronging the lobby bar and restaurants to curry favor.

How it would work: Trump would sell the leasing rights to a real estate developer, who in turn would negotiate with hotel companies that would manage the property and rebrand it.

  • Details of the deal’s terms aren't yet known but Trump’s representatives have been in talks with major hotel chains and investors.
  • Trump, who initially tried to sell the leased federal property in the fall of 2019, declined Axios' request for comment.
  • Sources said the former president is likely to get less than the $500 million he was reportedly seeking in 2019.

The backstory: The hotel is housed in the 122-year-old Old Post Office building.

  • Three years before Trump was elected, the General Services Administration (GSA), the federal landlord, announced a 60-year lease agreement with the Trump Organization.
  • Under the 2013 agreement, $200 million of private money was to be spent to restore the building and convert it into a luxury development.
  • The Trump Organization has been paying $250,000 a month in base rent, GSA said in 2017. The rent was to rise with inflation.
  • Many ethics and contract experts called upon GSA to end the 60-year lease after Trump was elected and became, in effect, both tenant and landlord, NPR noted, but GSA upheld the deal.

Trump’s hotels and golf resorts have been hit hard by the COVID shutdowns that have walloped the hospitality industry — worsened for the former president by his lost heat after his 2020 defeat.

  • When Trump left office, The Washington Post reported that the D.C. hotel had a $170 million loan outstanding, and had seen revenue drop more than 60 percent compared to the previous year.
  • In early June, the Post reported that Trump had hired the brokerage firm Newmark Group to market the lease.
  • The original commercial real estate brokerage firm, Jones Lang LaSalle Inc., dropped out following the Capitol riot, Bloomberg reported.

Axios' Erin Doherty contributed reporting.

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