Three of President Donald Trump's Manhattan properties — Trump Plaza, the Trump International Hotel and Tower and his prized Fifth Avenue skyscraper, Trump Tower — have been name-dropped in an audit of buildings not complying with decades-old public use agreements by NYC comptroller Scott M. Stringer.
Trump Tower lacked required plaques, signs, tables, a functioning fountain and seating for public use, while the Trump International Hotel and Tower failed to supply a single food kiosk with public seating and Trump Plaza failed to install a water fountain. According to the New York Times, violations at Trump Tower first noticed by the city when the building removed public seating to make room for stores and have persisted despite $14,000 in fines.
Throughout New York, real estate developers seeking leniency on zoning laws often strike deals to offer "privately owned public space," areas where the public is free to roam maintained at the cost of the building owners. The deals are often great trade-offs for developers. In exchange for opening Trump Tower's lobby and terraces to the public, Trump scored rights to add 20 stories to the building, or roughly 200,000 square feet in a borough where each foot of condo or co-op goes for a median of $1,759.
But NYC's audit, taken after some properties went years without inspections, showed 180 separate privately owned public spaces, more than half of the 333 throughout the city, are failing to comply with agreements to provide public amenities. In some places, the New York Daily News reported, building security physically prevented auditors from even entering the supposedly public spaces.
According to Stringer, the result is developers like Trump profiteering to the tune of tens of millions of dollars while abandoning their civic obligations.
"When he started construction, President Trump made a deal — the City let him build taller, and he had to provide open space for New Yorkers," Stringer said in an email statement. "It was a simple agreement, but once again the President isn't holding up his end of the bargain."
"This isn't the 'art of the deal' — it's the art of deception," Stringer added. "President Trump needs to play by the same rules as everyone else. That's why I'm calling on the city to inspect every privately owned public space in our city — including the Trump properties."
It's not the only gripe NYC officials have raised with Trump's footprint on the city. At the same time his buildings have flouted public use rules, the president and first lady Melania Trump have cost the New York Police Department $127,000-$146,000 a day to provide security at Trump Tower, or an estimated $50 million to $60 million a year — which could add up to a quarter of a billion dollars over the course of a four-year presidency.