NEW YORK – Donald Trump's luxury hotel near the White House, which drew diplomats, lobbyists and plenty of controversy while he was president, received government approval Friday to hand the keys to a Miami investment fund, a last hurdle to a sale that many industry experts doubted would ever go through.
The federal government agency overseeing the building said an “extensive and exhaustive” review found no problem with Trump Organization plans to sell to a fund led by CGI Merchant Group. The Associated Press has reported that investors include former New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez. The $375 million price tag is far more than many expected for a hotel that lost tens of millions of dollars while Trump was president.
The deal is a significant victory for the ex-president's company after business partners cut ties following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot by Trump supporters last year. The sprawling real estate company, owner of golf courses, clubs and office towers, had also been reeling from the impact of pandemic shutdowns.
The $375 million would more than make up for the $200 million Trump’s company put into renovating the historic, federally owned Old Post Office into a hotel, as well as the $70 million that a congressional oversight committee says the hotel lost during Trump’s four years in office.
One of Trump’s sons overseeing the business, Eric Trump, declined to comment aside from confirming that the green light from the feds was the last condition to closing the deal.
A spokesman for Rodriguez didn't respond immediately to requests for comment.
Government ethicists have long criticized Trump for opening the hotel to lobbyists, diplomats and others who may have wanted to influence policy. The hotel has been at the center of several lawsuits and investigations, including one by the House Oversight Committee.
“A sale of the Trump Hotel does not resolve the committee’s grave concerns about former President Trump’s conflicts of interest," said New York Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney, the committee's chairwoman. “No one is above the law.”
The Trump family is not selling the building itself, but a long-term lease it took out with the federal government in exchange for fixing it up and paying rent. That deal was overseen by the General Services Administration, the federal agency that completed the review of the sale.
When the new deal is finalized in the coming weeks, the new owners plan to strip the Trump name off the facade and turn the 263-room hotel into a Waldorf Astoria under a separate agreement struck with Hilton, the owner of that luxury brand.
Other changes are unclear, but if CGI, Rodriguez and the other investors follow the pattern of past deals they've done together, the property could turn from a magnet for supporters of Trump into a liberal-minded, environmentally friendly gathering spot.
The investors, through their CGI-led fund, have bought two Miami hotels and a third on the campus of Morris Brown College in Atlanta and rebranded them into a chain of “socially conscious” and “eco-friendly” properties.
CGI’s chief executive, Jamaican-born Raoul Thomas, is a heavy Democratic party donor who has pledged 1% of room revenue to local charities, buying from local businesses and using eco-friendly products.
Rodriguez isn't the only celebrity investor. CGI confirmed that former boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. is also in the fund and will be a part-owner of the hotel.