The Secret Dealings for Trump Tower

Chapter Seven of Trump’s The Art of the Deal goes into detail about the dealing required to make his famous Trump Tower possible.

Trump built his mixed-use building by combining various deals and city regulations. "Trump Tower" by Jorge Láscar
Trump built his mixed-use building by combining various deals and city regulations. “Trump Tower” by Jorge Láscar

Trump’s first break comes after months of writing to the owner of a 5th Avenue property that caught his eye. The land is larger than most parcels and is at a prime location. When the owners hit hard times, Trump’s persistent letter writing pays off. He meets with the man whose job it was to cut the business and balance the books. Trump leaves the meeting with a $25 million deal, knowing it’s just the beginning of the process for this property.

Trump weaves stories about buyers and sellers of buildings, the land leases under his location, the air rights over his neighbor Tiffany jewelers, and the city zoning battles that he has to navigate. He talks about the honorable deals he makes with the people involved, unlike previous deals where the “lowlifes” required contracts. (This is an example of Scott Adam’s sticky nickname that Trump gives people, where future events will match the example and cognitive bias will reinforce the idea.)

Trump discusses his interest in keeping the many aspects of his deal a secret. Many parts of his deal required other parts to fall into place, and public knowledge that the property was available would have driven up prices and increased competition.

He talks about providing options during his various deals, always providing the choice he prefers in side-by-side with a valid but unattractive option. He knows his preferred option shines in comparison.

Trump discusses the powerhouse that is the New York Times. For all of his rhetoric now, he makes it quite evident that they’re a force in shaping public opinion. A favorable write-up of his plans helps his zoning battles, while also forcing changes in the zoning laws for future developments.

His sales tactic for apartments in the Tower is artificial scarcity. He raises prices twelve times for apartments before selling them all. He reminds us that these are luxury apartments, where people pay in order to have the property impeccably maintained, where your best customers will feel special.

Trump tells a handful of other stories about how tremendous his tower is, where he works and lives himself. The atrium itself, a source of some zoning variances and a shopping destination, is also talked up.

Overall, Chapter 7 is an interesting overview of the complex dealings that Donald Trump pulled together to make his Trump Tower possible. The plans were audacious and complex, with the possibility to fall apart at any time. Yet Trump is able to pull it together, and in his view, save various Manhattan landmarks such as Tiffany and Bonwit.

Trump Tower is opened to the public in 1983, overlooking the Tiffany store.


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