Seventeen of Trump’s clubs and hotels have closed. The remainder of Trump properties are operating at a fraction of their normal capacity: hotels running with restaurants closed, golf clubs operating with clubhouses shut down, and golfers warned not to share carts or touch the flagsticks.
All told, the closed properties generated an average of $650,000 in revenue for Trump per day, according to Trump’s past financial disclosures.
That economic strain has pushed Trump Organization officials to inquire about possible relief, at least temporarily, from the company’s financial obligations at one of its properties.
In Palm Beach County, Fla., the Trump Organization has not paid rent of $54,534.25 that was due April 1 on land it leases from the county government for the Trump International Golf Club West Palm Beach, a county representative said Friday.
The Trump Organization said it has until April 10 to make the monthly payment without penalty.
“Because payment has not become due, and in light of Governor’s DeSantis’ executive order shutting down businesses throughout the State of Florida as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic, the County advised us to refrain from making payment until they have finalized their policy for the handling of their numerous leases,” Alan Garten, a Trump Organization executive, said in a statement. “As soon as the County finalizes its guidance, we will, of course, fully and timely comply with its directives as well as continue to comply with the requirements of the lease.”
Palm Beach County officials did not respond to a question about Garten’s comment that the company was advised not to make the payment.
The West Palm Beach golf club sits on county land, and the Trump Organization pays $995,000 per year for two leases that pertain to one 18-hole and one nine-hole course, according to county officials. No monthly payment had been received on the 18-hole lease, which is administered by the county airports department, said Nicole Ferris, a county spokeswoman. She did not respond to questions about the second rent payment, of $33,804.88, that also was due April 1.
On March 25 — the same day that Trump’s Palm Beach golf club closed — Ed Raymundo, director of finance for the Trump Organization’s Florida properties, wrote an email to a Palm Beach County government official asking how the county intended to handle “the required rent installment” and suggested times were difficult for the club, according to a copy of emails obtained as part of a public-records request.
Raymundo wrote that DeSantis’s executive order closing nonessential bars and restaurants had “resulted in the cancellation of events and forced the Club to close many of it’s amenities leaving limited services available to our members.”
“In addition, with many New York-based members, the Governor’s most recent order requiring individuals traveling from the tri-state area to self-quarantine further hampers our operation,” Raymundo wrote. “Your direction in this is greatly appreciated.”
On March 31, Ray Walter, deputy director for real estate and concessions with the Palm Beach County airports department, wrote to Raymundo saying that “we are unable to forgive rental” but that a deferment may be possible “on a short-term basis in the midst of the current state of closure” and that “it is critical for us to keep the dialogue open.”
“I anticipate we will have more direction in the coming days or weeks,” Walter wrote to Raymundo.
He added that his department “does not have delegated authority to waive conditions, therefore resolution would need to be approved by the Board of County Commissioners, and resolution such as a short-term deferment would need to be consistent with all similarly-situated tenants.”
One county commissioner, Hal Valeche, wrote in an email that “the Commission has not discussed this or, to my knowledge, been apprised of it, so no decisions have been made.”
The next board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday.
As of Friday, 17 of Trump’s 24 clubs and hotels around the world were closed. The latest to close was Trump’s hotel in Vancouver, Canada — which announced its closure Thursday.
Trump’s business partner in that hotel, Joo Kim Tiah, said in an email, “With what is happening in the world right now, no hotel company or hotel is immune or spared.”
Tiah said that 213 workers had been laid off and 18 kept on, with 11 of those working reduced hours.
In Chicago, the Trump hotel told investors on Friday that it had made the “heartbreaking decision to” lay off two-thirds of its staff, required the remaining staff to work on two to three days a week, and suspended 401(k) contributions for all. Even the lights had been turned down to save money. “In an effort to conserve energy, most common areas . . . are illuminated and heated at a minimum level,” the hotel told its investors in a letter obtained by The Washington Post.
With the properties closed, the company faces significant costs.
Over the next month, Trump properties will owe more than $1.8 million in property-tax bills from local jurisdictions, according to a Post analysis of tax records.
The company also has to pay an April bill to New York City, related to ice rinks, a carousel and a golf course that the company runs under city contracts. A representative of the city parks department said Friday that “they do not have a past due payment at this time” but declined to say more.
The company has been trying to sell its D.C. hotel lease since late last year, an effort that has been sidelined by the pandemic.