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Trump Tower Security Is Hurting Midtown's Apartment Market, Experts Say

By Amy Zimmer | November 22, 2016 3:22pm
 Not only might people try selling Trump Tower homes, but others want to avoid the area too, brokers say.
Not only might people try selling Trump Tower homes, but others want to avoid the area too, brokers say.
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MANHATTAN — Is luxury worth the cost of extreme security measures?

There are roughly 15 apartments presently on the market for sale at Trump Tower, ranging from $2.1 million to $11 million, and 15 rentals, asking anywhere from $5,250 a month to $30,000 a month, according to Streeteasy.

And more units are expected to hit the market in the buildings, experts believe, as security measures around the high-rise at 721 Fifth Ave. to protect President-elect Donald Trump and his family cause “Trumplock” for the foreseeable future.

“We expect that more listings will come to market in the building as the ramifications of the security area unfold,” said Victoria Shtainer, a veteran broker with Compass.

The already congested Fifth Avenue will keep two lanes closed, at least for the remainder of the transition, with 56th Street between Fifth and Madison avenues closed to all vehicular traffic. Heavily armed members of the NYPD’s terror response team stand guard outside Trump Tower, with 50 NYPD officers in the area helping with law enforcement, DNAinfo New York previously reported. (Protecting Trump is costing the city more than $1 million a day, CNN reported Monday.)

It’s unclear what barricades will stay after Trump is inaugurated, though the presence of the Secret Service will likely be large. Melania Trump and her son, Barron, will be staying in their gold-encrusted penthouse instead of moving to the White House, so the 10-year-old boy can finish his school year at Columbia Grammar on the Upper West Side, according to reports.

Trump also has voiced plans to return to his 30,000-square-floor apartment on weekends.

For a luxury building with nearly 240 units, the current number of sales listings at Trump Tower is slightly high, noted Shtainer.

“Owners in the building are already beginning to feel the effects on their daily lives and routines of the ongoing protests and difficulty getting in and out of the building,” she said. “Sellers in the building, however, must understand that they may face headwinds finding buyers for the building with the given circumstances surrounding it.”

Several of the units in Trump Tower have already seen price drops — a two-bedroom, for instance, saw its price drop five weeks ago by $205,000 to $5.995 million and a one-bedroom saw its price slashed by $305,000 to $3.195 million.

Across the city, however, apartments above $3 million have been lingering on the market longer, many brokers say, so price drops are not uncommon in the upper tier these days.

But Trump Tower, at least in the short term, might see a bigger dip than other luxury properties.

“I spoke to a client recently that lives in the building and they described it as ‘nightmare,’” Shtainer said. “In order to leave the building, they have to call the front desk to get clearance, and the desk requests an hour advance notice.”

It’s not only people who live in Trump Tower, who are affected as the increased congestion and the traffic extend beyond the building’s immediate vicinity.

“We have already heard reports that traveling down Fifth Avenue from the top of the park to the bottom at 59th street is taking upwards of an hour,” said Shtainer.

“Some clients that would have considered a crosstown commute to the office are now reconsidering given the increased traffic from the security area. Buyers that were considering central Midtown as a location might begin looking further east or west to distance themselves from the congestion of the security area.”

Jessica Milton, of Mirador Real Estate, recently met a potential renter at an open house she was hosting, who was looking to move from Murray Hill to avoid the Fifth Avenue Trump-related chaos in his crosstown trip to his job in Midtown West.

He told her that he didn’t want to even have to rely on taking the 6, N or R trains as he did now.

"Aside from the impact the Trump situation is having on the retail, it is going to hit residential as well,” Milton said, referring to the anecdotes about the problems that shops like Gucci and Tiffany have faced because of the security zone.

“I think if you currently own there, it's not a good time to sell,” she said. “Regardless of political views, no one wants to zig-zag through police, crowds and barricades. We'll see how protests unfold in the coming months, but I don't see anyone aiming to be living or commuting through them.”

But Shteiner cautioned it's too soon to know exactly how this will impact properties.

Foreign buyers, she said, tend to like security and place more of a value on it than local buyers.

“Often times, foreign buyers come from parts of the world where heightened security is a normal thing, so when you look to purchase homes in New York, they look for buildings that can offer them good security,” Shtainer said. “For those with security as a concern, this could be a positive for Trump Towers.”

That is, she added, if they can look past protesters and traffic congestion. 

“Those who value this type of security and the restriction on traffic flow and increased congestion," she said, "might be a small percent of buyers."