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Trump Has the World in His Pocket

By: Alan Wax
Published: 6/24/2002Source: Newsday

Trump Has the World in His Pocket

Donald Trump's newest building, Trump World Tower at United Nations Plaza, has become an extraordinarily profitable venture for the real estate mogul. Trump, meeting recently with real estate editors and writers in the marble-clad lobby of the towering residential building, said when all 374 condominium units in the 72-floor high rise are sold, the venture will have reaped revenues of about $650 million to $750 million. The slim, bronze-glass residential tower rises 861 feet at First Avenue between East 47th and East 48th streets and cost about $300 million to build. The site, which is opposite the UN buildings, cost $50 million. "It's been a very profitable building," Trump told members of the National Association of Real Estate Editors, who toured the virtually completed project with its sweeping views of the city earlier this month. He said only 15 percent of the 374 units in the building designed by architect Costas Kondylis remain unsold. The apartments cost $952,500 to about $14 million.

Manhattan apartments sold by The Corcoran Group in May reached a record $703 per square foot, according to the residential brokerage, up 28 percent from April. Overall, the average price of a residential property sold by the real estate firm rose to $859,715 from $757,000 a year earlier. Purchasers at Trump's recently completed project include UN ambassadors, wealthy Americans, including several New York Yankees players, and "a lot of Wall Street people," Trump said. The market for luxury condos is the best he has seen even though the other segments of the city's real estate market, including rentals and hotels, are not as strong. "It's [low] interest rates," he added, explaining why residential sales have remained vibrant.

The sale of one penthouse to an unnamed foreigner fell through recently, netting Trump a $10 million forfeited deposit. "That was even better than selling it," he said. Trump boasted that the building, which he says is the world's tallest residential tower, is "extremely safe." He said the building is constructed with high-strength concrete, rather than steel beams, and, thus, can withstand normal fire temperatures that could warp or melt steel beams. Also, he said, in addition to the building's own tight security, it benefits from the extensive security in the neighborhood because of its proximity to the United Nations. "We have great security, and we get it for nothing," he said. Trump for two years successfully battled area residents, including former Diners Club chairman Seymour Flug and one-time TV news anchor Walter Cronkite, who expressed concern that the neighborhood's character would change, that they would no longer enjoy amazing views of the East River or Manhattan's skyline, and that the United Nations would no longer be the area's center.