WASHINGTON - Former president Donald Trump’s company has again hired a broker to sell the lease to its District of Columbia hotel, according to two people familiar with the discussions, a second attempt to unload the property after the pandemic thwarted a previous effort.
The Trump Organization previously listed the Pennsylvania Avenue hotel, in the federal owned Old Post Office Pavilion, in the fall of 2019. When covid-19 struck, many hotels either closed completely or partially due to government lockdowns, and the company pulled the property off the market.
Now, with Trump under investigation by prosecutors in New York and the economy beginning to take off, his company is trying again, hiring the brokerage firm Newmark Group to market the lease, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share private business discussions.
Representatives for the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A representative of Newmark Group declined to comment.
The hotel, which Trump's company leases from the General Services Administration, has suffered financially from both the toll covid has taken on luxury travel and the damage Trump's brand has endured due to his politics, with many liberal, corporate and international clients unwilling to book rooms or events at the hotel.
Rooms were running nearly half empty at the hotel the last time the company put it up for sale, according to marketing documents acquired by The Washington Post. Last year revenue at the property fell by 62%, according to Trump's government disclosure forms.
The newly proposed sale comes on the heels of Manhattan's district attorney convening a grand jury expected to decide whether to indict the former president, other executives at his company or the business itself. The move indicates that District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.'s investigation of the former president and his business has reached an advanced stage after more than two years.
It's unclear whether the District hotel will be a factor in Vance's investigation into Trump's business or in a related inquiry by New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat. The property has not been named as a target in any public filings related to either Vance's case or the investigation by James, but the Wall Street Journal reported last week that Vance's office is investigating the hotel in addition to other properties.
Trump called the seating of the grand jury "a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in American history."
"This is purely political, and an affront to the almost 75 million voters who supported me in the Presidential Election, and it's being driven by highly partisan Democrat prosecutors," the former president said in a statement last week.
Vance's office declined to comment.
Should the hotel sell, it would likely mean the name "Trump" would come down from the building, as industry experts say a new operator would probably want to capitalize on a different hotel brand to grow revenue among a broader swath of clients. In addition to the difficulty of reaching a wide array of guests, hotel management has not reopened the hotel's outdoor bar seating out of concerns for the comfort and safety of guests.
Whether it sells will depend on what price Trump and his family are willing to consider. The Trump Organization put an estimated $200 million into renovating the property, far more than other bidders were willing to offer, and took out a $170 million loan from Deutsche Bank to finance the project. Last time it was up for sale, Eric Trump, the president's son, said the company was looking for a sales price of around $500 million.
Another factor in the sale may be the pool of potential buyers willing to do business with Trump and his company. For months Trump has spread election falsehoods and before leaving office, he encouraged the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, prompting some banks, law firms, real estate brokers and other companies to swear off working with him or his company in the future.
Trump won the deal to renovate the Old Post Office before he was elected but the hotel became a center of controversy once he entered office. Trump continued to own his business while it served corporations, foreign governments and other clients with business before the U.S. government, leading to allegations of conflicts of interest.
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The Washington Post’s David A. Fahrenthold contributed to this report.