[media-credit name="Photo by J.B. Nicholas " align="aligncenter" width="600"]
At the opening of the Trump Soho in April 2010, from left, Eric, Don Jr., Donald and Ivanka Trump with developer Alex Sapir.
BY ALBERT AMATEAU | A partner in the 46-story Trump Soho, the condo hotel that opened in April 2010 in the Hudson Square district over the objections of neighborhood preservation advocates, last week put the building on the auction block.
Alex Sapir, the partner of the Bayrock Group in building the hotel managed by Donald Trump’s family, said last week that the unsold condo units and the public areas of the hotel would be auctioned in March or April.
Sapir told the business press on Jan. 18 that the developers had received unsolicited offers from unnamed buyers.
“They were numbers that we would be very happy selling at,” Sapir told Bloomberg News and Crain’s New York Business.
Sapir said the auction of what he called “a real trophy property” would be a test of the market for the hotel at Varick and Spring Sts.
The Trump Soho offers condos for sale that may be occupied by the owners for no more than 120 days per year. For the rest of the time the units are rented as hotel rooms with the condo owners sharing the revenue with the management.
Of the 391 units, about 90 have been sold and 42 were currently listed for sale with prices ranging from $995,000 for a 425-square-foot studio to $8.74 million for a 2,331-square-foot two-bedroom suite.
“An asset like this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Sapir in his announcement of the auction.
But critics have long said the project is grossly oversized for the neighborhood and that the controversial condo/hotel structure was an attempt to evade zoning that allows hotels but prohibits new residential development.
Sean Sweeney, director of the Soho Alliance and one of the neighborhood critics of the project, said he thought the Trump Soho was in financial trouble.
“Trump and his shady partners have learned the hard way not to come to Soho with a dubious scheme that violates our zoning and expect the community to roll over,” Sweeney said. “Two lawsuits combined with our numerous complaints to the attorney general and the Securities Exchange Commission, as well as the 120-day restriction on residential occupancy were a major factor in securing this victory,” Sweeney said. “Trump behaved arrogantly and now his brand name is attached to a bankrupt property being sold at public auction to the highest bidder,” he added and concluded with, “Soho to Trump: You’re fired!”
The Soho Alliance filed legal objections to the building with the Board of Standards and Appeals claiming it was overbuilt.
Nevertheless, construction started in November 2006, although full city approval was not final until May 2007. Work was halted in December 2006 after workers discovered human bones that were eventually found to be from 19th-century burial vaults under the former Spring St. Presbyterian Church that stood on the site until 1966.
On Jan. 14, 2008, a scaffold collapsed during a concrete pour, killing one worker on the 42nd floor.
Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and a longtime critic of the Trump Soho, said, “This building has been a tragedy and a violation of zoning that should never have been built. It was wrong of the developer to build it and wrong of the city to approve it.”