The 555 California Street building, which the Trump family co-owns, is no longer for sale, and Trump can’t be happy that he won’t get his $1.5 billion payout.
It’s no secret that President Trump is a co-owner of the 555 California Street office building, or rather, the Trump family owns a 30% share of the building. The majority, controlling owner is a corporate real estate firm called Vornado Realty Trust, though the property is listed on Trump.com too. The property has also been listed for sale since the summer, leaving the Trump family in line for an estimated $1.5 billion payout (if the $5 billion asking price were met) at a time when they’ve got at least $421 million in debt coming due.
But hold on to your Ivanka handbags, kids, because that $1.5 billion is no longer in the pipeline. The Wall Street Journal broke the news that 555 California has been taken off the market, and the Trumps’ billion-dollar windfall won’t be coming anytime soon. The Journal’s report is behind a subscription paywall, but the news is also reported in the San Francisco Business Times, if you want to start plotting your Hitler “Downfall” parody video of “Trump finds out he’s not getting his $1.5 billion.”
The Chronicle got a full statement out of the Cushfield & Wakeman executive handling the sale of the 52-story former Bank of America headquarters, and it’s a tour de force of evasion and real estate industry bullshit. “Now with the election uncertainty behind us and with much more clarity and positive news surrounding the vaccine’s efficacy and speed to market, we are now focusing more on refinancing both assets and are leaning toward re-offering and/or recapitalizing the package in 2021, when the durability of the cash flows is even more valued,” he said.
The Wall Street Journal has the more pointed assessment that Vornado Realty Trust “decided to shelve the sales process when it couldn’t attract a buyer at the prices it wanted.”
There are actually two properties that were on sale here, the other being in Manhattan. The Journal describes the Trump family as 30% “passive owner and has no control over the sales decision-making” with regards to both properties.
What is not mentioned in any of these reports is that the sale would be affected by the passage of Prop. I in the November election, and the real estate transfer tax on the sale would have doubled. The measure’s author, Supervisor Dean Preston, wrote in an Examiner op-ed that if this building sold, "we can actually hand Trump a $15-18 million tax bill on his way out of office, and then use that money to house more San Franciscans."
But the building will not sell, not in the near term at least. The Cushfield & Wakeman rep tells the Journal that they’ll now try to refinance both buildings, but the Journal adds that “The Trumps are unlikely to receive much if any cash from refinancing.”
Image: Kevin Y. via Yelp