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Judge Rules that New York Condo Can Remove 'Trump' from Name of Building
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4 May 2018 04:40 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Looking south along Riverside Boulevard in 2009 (Image Source: Public Domain)

 

Many may have wondered why Donald Trump sought the presidency in 2016 when he was already a very successful businessman, but some remain convinced that it was an effort to further his businesses and his wealth. If that's the case, it may be backfiring on him. 

The Trump name meant something very different not too long ago. But now it means a man with a low approval rating. He knocked down half of his fan base by becoming president. And because of that, some places that were already connected to him don't want to be connected any longer. 

A condo building at 200 Riverside Boulevard bears the name "Trump Place," but a judge has just ruled the name can be removed, despite the Trump Organization's objections.

The building's license agreement was signed in 2000, with the association paying Trump $1 to use the name "for the purpose of identifying the building."

The condo association of "Trump Place" took an informal poll of its residents just weeks after Donald Trump took office as POTUS. An overwhelming 63% voted to remove the Trump sign that connects the building to its developer.

"Please be advised that [removing the sign] would constitute a flagrant and material breach of the License Agreement," wrote the Trump Organization's chief legal officer, Alan Garten, in a March 29, 2017, letter. He promised that if there was any attempt to remove the sign, his organization "will have no choice but to commence appropriate legal proceedings."

Judge Eileen Bransten heard arguments from both sides. The Trump Organization argued that the license agreement allowed the building to call itself "Trump Place" and also prevented the building from ever removing the name.

"That simply is now what the document says," she ruled. She suggested the condo association vote to rename the building at 200 Riverside Boulevard, even over the objections of the Trump Organization. 

This won't change the name of the building necessarily, as it's still subject to the vote by the condo association, whether or not to keep "Trump Place" as the name, and it will require a two-thirds majority. Bransten also ruled that taking down the signs identifying the building as "Trump Place" was equal to changing the name.  

"The court does not find any of defendant's arguments convincing," she said of the Trump Organization's concerns. Lawrence Rosen, attorney for the organization, is suggesting an appeal is possible, and if it does go before the condo association for a vote, he stated the organization would carefully pick it over, looking for errors.

"We'll be watching carefully to make sure that they dot their i's and cross their t's," added Rosen. "Democracy, in this particular condominium ... requires a 66-2/3 percent vote."

Prior to this, the condo association believed removing the "Trump Place" signs wouldn't be the same as renaming the building, as in legal documents it will still be referred to as "200 Riverside Boulevard at Trump Place." It was with that thought that they believed they needed a simple majority of condo owners to remove the signs.

Removing the name won't be taking money out of Donald Trump's pocket, as the Trump Organization will still be paid to manage the building, whether or not the name is on the signs, but the management contract will come to an end in December 2019.

Eric Trump believes preserving the signs is preserving his father's legacy. "I will always fight vehemently against rogue individuals not only to protect our incredible [condo] owners," he said in a statement, "but also to protect the legacy of a true visionary who did so much to shape the New York City skyline."

Up until now the strategy of the organization had been to threaten legal action in order to keep the brand going in their more than 50 buildings across the world, but that didn't work out so well for them in this case. 

The Trump name has already been removed from three former "Trump Place" buildings in Manhattan. Additionally, Trump hotels in New York, Toronto, and Panama have removed the name as well.

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