Donald Trump loses fight with residents to keep name on New York City tower

Bronze letters spelling out Trump's name can be removed from the 46-storey Upper West Side building.
Bronze letters spelling out Trump's name can be removed from the 46-storey Upper West Side building.PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - A New York judge ruled a condominium building on the city's west side is not obligated to keep President Donald Trump's name emblazoned on it, dealing a blow to the Trump Organisation's efforts to stop a growing movement among Trump-named buildings to ditch their affiliation with the president.

The Trump Place, a high-rise at 200 Riverside Boulevard, on Manhattan's Upper West Side, would become at least the seventh building worldwide since the 2016 election to remove Trump's name from its facade, joining other New York structures and hotels in Canada and Panama.

New York Justice Eileen Bransten said on Thursday morning (May 3) that the board's licensing agreement with the Trump Organisation does not obligate the building to display Trump's name. She read from her 12-page decision from the bench during a hearing in lower Manhattan.

"That simply is not what the document says," she said, adding that she was also denying a request from DJT Holdings, a corporate entity owned by Trump, for attorneys' fees.

The entity "failed to explain how plaintiffs have breached the licensing agreement."

Bransten cautioned that her ruling only pertains to "whether the licensing agreement prohibits the plaintiffs from changing the name of the building" and doesn't allow them to do so without following proper procedure under the agreement and the building's bylaws.

A two-thirds majority vote of members is required for that, she said.

INFORMAL POLL

That's almost the number of Trump Place condominium owners who responded to an informal poll early last year that voted to strip Trump's name off the roughly 20-year-old building facing the Hudson River.

The board of Trump Place sued the president's business after the Trump Organisation threatened to start legal proceedings after it learned of the brewing revolt.

"We will be watching carefully to make sure they dot their I's and cross their T's," Lawrence Rosen, a lawyer for DJT Holdings said after the hearing.

The Trump Organisation said it plans to appeal.

“The decision today by judge Bransten was limited to a narrow technical issue of law, for which there is no precedent in New York,” the organisation said in an emailed statement.

“While we respect judge Bransten’s ruling, we are confident the appeals court will conclude otherwise.” 

A lawyer for the condominium board, Harry Lipman, declined to comment on whether the name would be removed.

"The decision speaks for itself," he said.