A potential buyer for the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. has emerged months after the Trump family announced an effort to sell the President’s landmark hotel.
The D.C. developer Brian Friedman told The Washington Post he would make a bid to take over the hotel’s lease.
“I think he has to sell before he gets out of office, because it’s not going to get better — it’s going to get worse,” Friedman told the Washington Post Friday.
“I don’t think there are many people who are going after it,” he added.
That clashed with what Eric Trump told The Wall Street Journal in October. “Since we opened our doors, we have received tremendous interest in this hotel and as real-estate developers, we are always willing to explore our options,” Trump said.
The Trump Organization has hired the real estate firm JLL to market the hotel, which is housed in the former Old Post Office in D.C. Trump has a long-term lease on the building from the federal government for $3 million annually. According to the Post, numbers from JLL show occupancy rates at the hotel dipped substantially in 2019.
The Journal reported that the Trump Org was seeking more than $500 million for the hotel. The Post reported that the company spent $210 million renovating the building.
Friedman expressed some skepticism at the price tag.
“There’s never been a hotel that’s sold even close to that price per [room] in D.C., and the ones that have sold for the highest prices had no ground lease,” he told the Post. “You would never get $500 million for a ground lease.”
Any purchase would have to be approved by the Government Services Administration, which leases the building to Trump, the Post noted.
Eric Trump said in October that the ethical issues presented by his father’s presidency played a role in the potential sale.
Or, as he put it, “People are objecting to us making so much money on the hotel, and therefore we may be willing to sell.”
That’s putting it lightly: Trump faces multiple constitutional Emoluments Clause lawsuits over his hotel ownership as president, including from the attorneys general of Maryland and D.C. Jill Phaneuf, a former Friedman employee, is a plaintiff in one of the suits, the Post noted.
And the Justice Department’s inspector general is currently investigating the Trump administration’s decision — after years of planning — to cancel the FBI headquarters’ planned move to the D.C. suburbs. Trump has been accused of intervening to stop the move, which would open up valuable land a half block away from his hotel, potentially to rival developers.