NEW YORK, Oct 28 – Trump Place Apartments are luxury living at one of New York’s finest addresses, with marble floors, grand entrance halls, attentive doormen and magnificent views across the Hudson River.
But behind closed doors, residents are squabbling over whether to remove the Republican nominee’s name from the facade to protest his divisive run for president and allegations that he sexually assaulted women.
A group of residents from the complex on Riverside Drive — on the Upper West Side, a wealthy, generally liberal enclave — launched a petition two weeks ago to take down the large letters that spell out Trump on the front of the building.
The New York billionaire’s name is his core asset, emblazed on a dozen skyscrapers dotted around Manhattan, helping him amass a personal fortune that is partly bankrolling his bid for the Oval Office.
The petition slams Trump’s “appalling treatment of women,” “history of racism,” attacks on immigrants, mockery of the disabled, tax avoidance and “outright lying” as “antithetical to the values” in which the organizers believe.
Many of the staff are minorities or immigrants, and working in a building that bears the Trump name is “insulting,” it says.
“Since Trump leases his name to buildings he does not own, part of our rent is being used to increase Trump’s net worth,” it complained.
So far, 465 supporters have signed the petition. But not everyone is on board in the cossetted corridors of homes to the rich and successful, including CEOs of companies such as KPMG, Viacom and HSBC.
“I think it’s nonsense,” said one harried father disappearing into an elevator. “When they are going to have to pay for it, they are not going to do it.”
“We live here regardless, and we love the staff, that’s all that matters,” said Ann Rae, who walks passes through the building at least three times a day to walk her dog and says she has always been friendly with everyone.
“Some of the people who have signed — we don’t even know them, not even sure they live here,” she said.
– ‘Not going to change anything’ –
“It’s not that we like the name… it’s disgusting some of what Trump has said,” Rae added. “But it’s one of the things about living in New York — there are so many things and buildings in New York that say Trump.”
“It’s not going to change anything, taking out the name,” she said.
But Brittany Ashby, mother of two young children, said she was in favor of the petition.
She rents a two-bedroom apartment for $9,000 a month that she believes is worth several million dollars — not one of the building’s priciest.
“I am only a renter, by the time anything gets done, I will be out of there,” she said. “But if I owned a place, and you are there for life, to be associated with it forever, that is a different thing.”
The petition is not listed for discussion at the building’s next board meeting, scheduled for late November. By then, after the election, it could be a moot point, Ashby admitted.
Democrat Hillary Clinton holds the momentum two weeks before the November 8 election, and polls give her a commanding lead over Trump.
But the petition reflects the growing threat to Trump’s business interests from his self-inflicted wounds on the campaign trail, which have already cost him at least one business associate.
Luxury apartments in buildings bearing his name no longer command sale price premiums, despite being up seven percent on the market rate last year, according to a study by the Redfin real estate agency.
The Trump Organization did not respond directly to requests for comment about the petition.
But a spokesperson told AFP: “The sole focus of our property management division is to provide unparalleled white glove service, meticulous attention to detail and a warm friendly atmosphere.”
“We will continue to exceed all expectations while providing the highest levels of luxury and service.”