President Trump’s company operates a city-owned golf course in the Bronx under a contract that makes it far easier for Trump to turn a profit. New York City agreed to pay Trump’s massive irrigation bills. And, for the first four years, it didn’t require Trump to pay a cent in rent on 192 acres.
Despite all that, Trump’s course lost money for the first time last year — running $122,000 in the red, according to a new filing with the city.
The loss for the past operating year, from April 2018 to March 2019, is the latest bad financial news for Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point. It comes as other Trump golf courses — from his Doral resort in Florida to his expensive courses in Scotland and Ireland — have reported declining revenue, or outright losses, during Trump’s polarizing presidency.
In the Bronx, Trump’s stubbly, Scottish-style course is built on top of an old landfill, with views of the East River, two huge bridges and the coast of Queens. It opened in April 2015, two months before Trump entered the 2016 presidential race.
Since then, the course — located in the district of liberal Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) — has struggled. The number of rounds played has declined every year. Overall revenue has fallen 14 percent, according to documents filed with the city.
The latest filing — an annual “income statement” in which Trump’s company summarized the club’s income and expenses at the city’s course — was released by the city parks department after a public records request.
Beyond the $122,000 in losses, the filing revealed something else: a previously hidden dispute at the course, which pits the president’s company against the government of America’s largest city.
The fight is over a gas pipe.
In the filing, Trump’s company said that an “inadequate gas pipe installed by” New York City had caused its losses, by delaying the opening of the course’s new clubhouse.
Although Trump’s company held an elaborate opening ceremony for that clubhouse in June 2018, the company said it didn’t actually open until this year. Without that delay, it said, the clubhouse restaurant and pro shop might have produced enough revenue to turn a profit.
The Washington Post asked both the Trump Organization and the city for details — both about the size of the gas pipe and the size of their dispute.
Further details were not given.
“Our letter to the city says it all and speaks for itself,” said Alan Garten, an attorney for the Trump Organization. “Nothing more to add.”
“We are aware of their claim and do not believe the City is responsible,” said Crystal Howard, a spokeswoman for the New York parks department.
A spokeswoman for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) — making a long-shot bid to run against Trump in the 2020 presidential election — said the dispute had not involved him.
At ConEd, New York’s gas utility, a spokesman said they weren’t involved in the argument.
“We do provide adequate gas service to the facility,” the spokesman said. “Any dispute is between the city and the customer.”
Eric Trump, who helps run his father’s businesses while Trump is in the White House, has blasted de Blasio on Twitter as a “clown mayor” and “total disgrace.”
De Blasio said this week that Trump “will not be welcome back in New York City” after his presidency.
Neither one has mentioned the dispute about the gas pipe.
Before last year, the Bronx golf course had managed to turn a profit of about $500,000 per year — helped by the city paying its water bills and not asking for rent.
Last year, however, the club’s expenses rose faster than its revenue, according to the Trump Organization’s filing. It fell into the red.
“He’s managed to do the impossible: Get this amazing gift from the city, and lose money,” said Geoffrey Croft, of the watchdog group NYC Park Advocates. He said one major problem was “the terrible reputation of the Trump name” in New York, after Trump’s rise as a hard-right politician. Croft also blamed the Trump club’s high greens fees, which top out at $224 per round. Most of the city’s other public courses charge $53 at most.
Trump’s clubhouse is now fully open, which could bring in more revenue for next year.
But now, Trump’s company faces a new challenge in the Bronx: Its four years of free rent are over. Next year, the club will have to pay the city at least $300,000 in fees.
Jonathan O’Connell contributed to this report.