Manhattan Trump Place Tenants Push for Building Name Changeby
Residents’ petition cites Trump’s treatment of women, racism
Landlord says it has a contractual obligation to use name
Marjorie Jacobs loves the apartment building where she lives on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. She just has one problem: It’s called Trump Place.
Jacobs is one of more than 360 people who have signed an online petition urging landlord Equity Residential, the largest publicly traded U.S. apartment owner by revenue, to “Dump the Trump Name.” Jacobs, who said she’s hated the building’s label ever since Donald Trump began his presidential campaign, and her like-minded neighbors may be gaining some traction. A member of the building’s staff told her this week that maintenance and concierge workers were being fitted for new uniforms that don’t bear the Republican candidate’s name.
“The building is beautiful, the service is impeccable,” said Jacobs, who said she’s in her 50s and moved to Trump Place after her home in Long Beach, New York, was damaged by Hurricane Sandy four years ago. “But the name is very embarrassing. I’m embarrassed to tell people where I live. I tell them 180 Riverside Blvd.”
Equity Residential, the Chicago-based company that also owns the 140 and 160 Riverside Blvd. buildings in Trump Place, isn’t saying what changes, if any, are being made at the property.
“We have a contractual obligation regarding the use of the name,” Marty McKenna, a spokesman for Equity Residential, said in an e-mail. “We will assess the continued use of the name at the appropriate time, taking into consideration the issues raised by the residents in their petition.”
Trump’s name, emblazoned in gold letters on Trump Place, has become somewhat tarnished during his run for the White House. Since entering the race last year, Trump has offended groups including Mexicans, Muslims, the disabled and veterans. A video from 2005 that showed him bragging about making lewd advances on women prompted almost a dozen to say he’d harassed them -- claims that he strongly denies.
“Trump’s appalling treatment of women, his history of racism, his attacks on immigrants, his mockery of the disabled, his tax avoidance, his outright lying -- all are antithetical to the values we and our families believe in,” according to the petition, posted on Change.org.
Hope Hicks, press secretary for the Trump campaign, didn’t respond to a request for comment. She told the New York Times, which reported on the controversy Monday, that it would be an “inappropriate” to remove the candidate’s name from the building. “If the name comes off, the building will lose tremendous value,” she told the newspaper.
Linda Gottlieb, a 160 Riverside tenant who started the petition, said fellow residents have been grumbling about their apartments’ branding for a while, arguing that the person whose name is emblazoned on the buildings doesn’t represent those who live and and work inside. The best way to make a statement, she figured, was to challenge something Trump appears to hold dear: his name.
“His name is his livelihood, so what happens if people were to say it’s a con game, it’s a Potemkin village, it’s empty?” said Gottlieb, a television and film producer who rents a three-bedroom unit. “It was time to expose it.”
Gottlieb said that when she called Equity Residential to let them know she would be starting a petition, she was told the Trump name would be removed at the end of the contract, which would be “in a matter of months.”
McKenna declined to comment.
For Jacobs, who shares her one-bedroom apartment with two rescue dogs, Benjamin and Theodore, “Trump” couldn’t come off the building soon enough.
“It’s just humiliating to see his name up there,” she said. “It’s disgustingly horrific to walk in and see his gold-plated name.”
As for the presidential race, Jacobs describes herself as only a grudging supporter of Trump’s rival, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. “The lesser of two evils,” she said.