Trump Org finally reaches deal on sale of DC hotel, rebranding on the way

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Former President Donald Trump’s business empire is selling the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., for $375 million a month after he was accused of misleading over a “failing business saddled by debt.”

CGI Merchant Group, based in Miami, is purchasing the five-star hotel’s leasing rights from the Trump Organization and will rebrand the building — a federally-owned former post office — after making a deal with Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., according to a Sunday Wall Street Journal report.

If the deal goes through, the final purchase price will amount to around 25 percent less than what the Trump Organization initially sought — $500 million.

Trump purchased the rights to the property and spent around $200 million to renovate it, famously announcing just before the November 2016 election that the project came in “on time and under budget.”

The sale would come after the House Committee on Oversight and Reform in the Democrat-controlled chamber noted last month that Trump hid the $70 million in net losses from the public. Instead, he noted during his presidency that the hotel netted in excess of $150 million.

That said, the committee noted that the property did not make a profit, declaring the hotel venture a “failing business saddled by debt,” according to a letter the panel wrote to the Government Services Administration (GSA) in October.

The letter does not accuse Trump of violating any laws; as president, he was exempt from conflict-of-interest laws that apply to other federal employees.

During his presidency, Democrats and critics tried unsuccessfully to accuse him of violating the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause. Under Article I, Section 9, Paragraph 8, elected leaders cannot receive gifts, money, or anything of value from foreign officials; the thinking was that when foreign leaders stayed at Trump’s hotel, he was being enriched by that. But the charges never went anywhere.

As for the hotel’s revenues, Trump Organization officials and members of the president’s family denied that it had become a massive money pit.

Plans are to convert the Trump brand into a Waldorf Astoria, which is Hilton’s luxury arm, as the new lessors attempt to distance themselves from the president’s company.

“If it becomes affiliated with a luxury brand, that brand can create a new identity for the property,” Sean Hennessey, chief executive of hospitality consulting firm Lodging Advisors, told the Journal in October.

The sale of the hotel has been in the works for a couple of years. In 2019, the Trump Organization hired top real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle to manage the sale and transfer.

“The property lease was established in 2013 under a 60-year agreement in which the Trump Organization paid a monthly base rent of $250,000 which was set to increase with inflation,” the Daily Mail reported.

“When he left office, the Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C. saw a year-over-year revenue decrease of more than 60 percent,” the outlet continued, as many appeared to shun the property in the wake of the Capitol riot.

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