Plans are underway to turn what the New York Times calls “White House North” into an armed bunker as the president-elect’s family defers D.C.. As 6sqft reported last week, Donald Trump has said he’d like his family to remain in Trump Tower, though the gilded Fifth Avenue fortress that Trump, wife Melania and son Barron call home is particularly difficult to secure. The round-the-clock protection the family has been receiving from the NYPD has come at a cost to the city of over $1 million a day. Now, the New York Post reports that the Secret Service is in talks with the Trump Organization over plans to occupy two floors of the 68-story tower. It’s standard policy for the federal agency to provide full protection for every president at their various homes–it cost around $2 million a year for the U.S. Coast Guard to protect George H. W. Bush’s estate in Kennebunkport, Maine during his presidency, for example. But in this instance taxpayers would be paying the incoming president’s own company for the space in a lease deal which could cost more than $3 million a year.
Those numbers won’t be falling anytime soon, as the president-elect claims he’ll spend weekends in his $90 million penthouse triplex and Melania and Barron will continue to live there until the end of the school year. Plus, all of Trump’s adult children and grandchildren live in the city and are therefore entitled to Secret Service protection.
As 6sqft previously explained, even without Midtown traffic snarls, protesters and angry pedestrians, security at Trump Tower is a unique challenge due to a public retail base and the fact that the family’s penthouse is near the top of the 664-foot building, accessed by elevator; also, pre-9/11 construction means it wasn’t built to withstand an attack. Neighboring high rises will need to be secured as well; there is currently a two-mile no-fly zone in effect above the tower. What’s more, Barron will require an armored vehicle to transport him to school.
The Secret Service and the NYPD reportedly intend to run a round-the-clock command post out of the pricey condo building; several of Trump Tower’s lower 26 commercial floors are reportedly vacant. The 17th floor is being marketed in three separate parcels for as much as $105 per square foot, which, with the addition of the second floor needed to accommodate the high-security operation, is where that $3 million figure is coming from; the 15th floor, which was used by the Trump campaign (which paid $169,000 per month for rent and utilities) may also be available.
Meanwhile, the building’s wealthy residents are reportedly running for the hills, causing a significant rate slash for sales and rentals of residential units over the past year. “They don’t need this, and they can’t take it any longer. They no longer want to stay there,” a top Manhattan broker told the Post.
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Neighborhoods : Midtown East