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Donald Trump’s Real Estate Business Losing One Of Its Most Important Tenants

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Nike New York

Donald Trump’s private real estate empire officially lost one of its most important tenants on Monday, when Nike announced that it is closing its store at the president’s 6 East 57th Street property in New York City next spring in favor of a new location just a few blocks away. The announcement comes a year after commercial landlord SL Green disclosed that it had signed a 15-year lease with Nike at 650 Fifth Avenue.

Of all of the commercial properties in President Trump’s portfolio, the site known as Niketown is by far the largest occupied by a single tenant. With Nike leaving, the Trump Organization is left searching for a new identity at the marquee property, which Forbes estimates is worth $253 million.

The building comprises roughly 65,000 square feet of space just off of Fifth Avenue, in the middle of one of the most famous retail corridors in the world. But as Amazon and other e-commerce sites grab more business every year, the value of retail real estate in the neighborhood continues to fall. That Trump controls Niketown, which is just around the corner from Trump Tower, only further complicates things.

“I don’t know of any tenants that need that much space other than department stores,” said Eric Anton, a Manhattan real estate broker at the firm Marcus & Millichap. “And I don’t think there are any expanding department stores. Maybe Harrods comes in and takes it. But any foreign group is going to be looked at as weird – you know, collusion or some kind of crazy Trump conspiracy theory.”

Domestic retailers might also look for other sites in a New York City borough where only 10% of the population voted for Donald Trump. Tiffany’s, which owns the site next door to Niketown, said “post-election traffic disruptions” helped cause a 14% drop in sales during the 2016 holiday season.

Still, 6 East 57th Street remains in the heart of New York’s commercial district, which draws tourists from all over the world. “You’ve got the best retail on the planet within 100 feet in every direction,” Anton said. “Maybe you cherry-pick one of the tenants that’s coming out, you know. You’re definitely going to do a new facade. They’ll scrape that facade off and they’ll build something really interesting.”

A spokesperson for the Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment.

Whatever the Trump Organization ends up doing, it won’t be under much pressure from lenders. The Trump Organization, which owns a ground lease on the space through 2079, recently paid off its debt on the property. The president’s business also owns office and retail space at Trump Tower. The largest tenant there is Gucci, according to a 2012 Securities and Exchange Commission filing, which has a lease that expires in 2026.

READ MORE: How Donald Trump’s Fortune Fell $600 Million In One Year

Since the announcement of Nike’s new agreement with SL Green, many have speculated that the move out from the shadow of Trump Tower was at least in part driven by Trump’s divisive political rhetoric. Nike spokeswoman Ilana Finley declined to address whether politics played a role in the decision, saying that the company had been planning a move “for years.” The new space “gives us more opportunities to play with new concepts than we have now,” Finley said.

Two employees said that while Trump’s political rhetoric played a minor role in Nike’s decision to leave, the physical layout of the store was a bigger factor. “It is mostly due to space constraints, more than any political implications,” said one current Nike employee, who requested anonymity to speak about matters they weren’t authorized to discuss.

Another employee, who also requested anonymity, said that store designers at Nike “hated” working on displays there. “It’s just tight. It’s hard to do what we want to do there.” The employee said that being associated with Trump’s name was also “a factor, to some degree.”

Some former Nike employees, meanwhile, scoffed at the notion that Nike’s move was in part politically motivated. “We never did anything when I was there that was even remotely political,” said Ed Stair, a former vice president of real estate and store construction who worked for Nike for more than a decade.

Nike will close its current space sometime in March 2018, the company said. While the new store won’t open for another year after that, customers will still be able to shop at the company’s stores in the SoHo and Flatiron neighborhoods. – 

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A Country On A Roll

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The tiny country of Rwanda is now producing factory-fresh Volkswagen cars from its rolling hills. Next up are ride-hailing and public car-sharing services by the German carmaker.

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The Heroes Among Us

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Heroes exist in history, on celluloid, in pop culture or in these digital times, at the forefront of technology. These are the mighty who shine on the front pages of newspapers, as the paradigms of victory and virtue. But every day in public life, surrounding us are some of the real stars, the nameless, the faceless we don’t recognize or celebrate. In the pages that follow, we look at some of them, exploring the exemplary work they do, from the war zones to your neighborhood streets. They are not flawless, they are not infallible, but they are heroes.

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The Power, Humour And Anger Of Mandela

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It is a century since Nelson Mandela came kicking and screaming into a world that he would change.

In one hundred years, his name has been spoken with pride from the paddy fields of Vietnam, through the savannahs of Africa to the smoky steak houses of New York. His legacy appears more contested with every passing year.

I was fortunate to have a front row seat in the Mandela years and saw the power, humour and anger of the man. I used to feel 10 feet tall at press conferences when he used to greet my questions with: “Mr Bishop, how are you?” Once I was walking to a TV interview with him, at an African Union summit in Harare, the day after I had ruptured my knee playing football, he noticed I was hobbling far behind – something he was not used to. He turned and inquired of the cause of my pain.

“May I suggest you take up boxing, it’s safer!” says the old man with that million dollar smile. I shall take the warmth of that smile to my grave.

Make it clear, I am no Mandela worshipper. He was no saint and certainly didn’t want to be one: he could be angry and petulant with the best of them; his past was chequered by domestic troubles; a man of the people, yet distant from his own family, according to many close to him. A man who promoted press freedom, yet like many of the lesser politicians who followed him, wanted his picture on every page of the morning newspaper. Mandela drew the line at the sports page – he joked that he didn’t want to risk being associated with losers.

The greatest fear Mandela had was that his ideals – not his name – would be forgotten after his death. Not for Mandela the greed of rule, nor the trappings of power.

Yet it is very fashionable these days to run Mandela down as something akin to a sell-out. Those who claim, erroneously, that Mandela sold out his people. They say he didn’t stop poverty overnight nor right the wrongs of the past with the wave of his wand. They need to talk to those who were there in the negotiations for a new free South Africa.

“People say we gave up too much in negotiations yet we had nothing to start with,” Denis Goldberg, a man who faced death with Mandela at the Rivonia Trial in 1964, once told me.

READ MORE: Mandela Through Their Eyes

The negotiations with an entrenched elite – that held most of the cards and only grudgingly acknowledged Mandela and his comrades – were difficult to say the least. Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC) could not even threaten to go back to war because the depleting arms of its military wing posed little or no threat to the state.

Even so, a deal was hammered together somehow. In the next two years, in the run-up to the 1994 elections, Mandela won his leadership spurs as he steered South Africa away from the civil war that many feared was inevitable. He flew to Durban and told bloody-thirsty faction fighters to throw their weapons into the sea and they listened. When revered freedom fighter Chris Hani was gunned down on his front drive, in 1993, many were ready to take the law into their own hands.

Mandela barged into the SABC studios in Johannesburg that night and made a broadcast to the nation to calm down and put its weapons away. He wasn’t even in Parliament then and I wonder to this day how many lives that broadcast saved with this canny display of leadership.

Then, when into power with a virtually bankrupt Treasury, Mandela steered the National Development Programme that built millions of homes and schools; electrified the homes of legions of poor people and rolled out roads to connect the nation. Yet, the money was never going to stretch far enough and millions still have no roof over their heads and too many schoolchildren attend classes under trees.

It is fashionable these days to say the majority of South Africa must rise in a civil war in which the nation will be cleansed of its past, restored of its land on the path to righteousness. It probably sounds even better after a few drinks.

READ MORE: Celebrating Mandela From Where It All Began; Soweto

I say this is bunkum and anyone who has ever seen or smelt a civil war will agree with me. How a vile, stinking trail of dead fathers, raped women and children, destruction and disorder, can lead a country to the light beats me. Those who scream for war have clearly never seen it.

The first time I clapped eyes on the great man, at the Harare Agricultural Show, on his first foreign visit to Zimbabwe in August 1994, he walked alone, without a security man in sight. I didn’t ask for a selfie – they didn’t exist then, anyway – I was tongue-tied. We merely smiled at each other in passing.

So when people in political circles told me that South Africa’s new president Cyril Ramaphosa didn’t care for wealth and power – he merely wanted to put his name up there with Mandela – I smiled like I did on that August day in Harare.

This does seem feasible as President Ramaphosa – a millionaire in his own right – was the man who stood next to Mandela, holding the microphone, on the town hall steps in Cape Town, on February 11 1990, during his famous address on release from 27 years in prison.

“I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people,” said Mandela to deafening cheers on that bright summer’s day.

Clearly this humility and willingness to serve rubbed off on President Ramaphosa on that fateful day in 1990. In his first 100 days, he has made manful attempts to stop the rot in South Africa by merely enforcing the rule of law. A course of action he made no secret of even before he took power on February 15.

“There are no holy cows. Anyone who is caught doing wrong things will end up behind the bars of a jail,” says Ramaphosa, with microphone in hand and humble service in mind at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January.

True to his word, Ramaphosa cut swathes through the corruption of the past. Former president Jacob Zuma ended up in the dock on corruption charges something that many – including me – thought they would never see in their lifetime. He removed the rookie finance minister Malusi Gigaba and replaced him with the people’s choice Nhanlha Nene who has staved off more downgrades of the economy. A clean-up of the state-owned enterprises and the institutions is underway and many who thought they were invincible six months ago have been cut down to size.

I am sure the old man, who must have been spinning in his grave over the last few years, would approve.

“Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another,” says Mandela at his inauguration at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

As we mark 100 years since his birth, it is time for cool heads and clear thinking to make sure this utopian ideal of liberty and tolerance lives on after his death. Our grandchildren will judge us harshly if we don’t.

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