You simply mustn’t upset a golden monolith like Trump International Hotel & Tower, where Mark Cuban and Robert Wood Johnson have top-floor spreads. So, six months and two days after buying a one-bedroom unit there, Raz Ofer is gone.
“He bought it,” a board member there told The Observer, “and then he was putting it on Expedia, and then he was renting the room, and it was a big problem for the hotel.”
And Trump got its way. “It’s a very big organization,” the Israeli-born Mr. Ofer told The Observer, “so it’s not that easy to fight them.” He sold his unit last month for $1.2 million, public records show.
Mr. Ofer’s old 691-square-foot condo is one of the building’s 167 so-called hotel units (buyers can only stay about half the year—the other days, rooms are rented out through Trump, but owners get the profits). Full-fledged condos upstairs, like Mr. Cuban’s sprawl, belong entirely to the buyers.
Expedia.com didn’t return calls for comment, but an agent with Mr. Ofer’s online travel page WooGo.com—recently featured in an A.P. story called “A room without a view: Budget hotel bookings done online may land you a fleabag”—told a reporter Friday that a room could be had at Trump International for $1,250 per night this month or $1,600 in September.
That’s a lot more than the rates through Trump: a similary sized room officially goes for $695 this month and $1,295 afterward. “We were in the position to sell the apartment ourselves,” Mr. Ofer said, “not just through the condominium. And we achieved higher prices than they did.”
“He was fairly active, and at one point he was looking to buy more rooms, and he thought he had a great game going here,” said the board member, who serves on a scary-sounding “hotel council” with Donald Trump. “We weren’t going to let him turn this into his hotel. … We told him he couldn’t do it, and he turned around and sold his unit.”
Listing broker Susan James at the Trump sales office said, “I can’t comment one way or the other.”
The building allows its hotel-unit owners to lend apartments to friends for free (or charge rates capped at high and low ends), the board member said. Mr. Ofer said there was indeed a minimum price, but no big-money limit: “As long as you don’t undercut the hotel condominium, you’re allowed to sell to whoever you want, whenever you want.”
As it happens, he’s made out just fine, selling his place for $300,000 more than he paid in January. His buyer is listed as DALLARA LLC on the deed.
But WooGo has reportedly been in trouble for renting out apartments on West 34th Street, and in L.A. too. During a later call to the company on Monday, another agent said they no longer make bookings at Trump International. That would make sense, considering this unit was Mr. Ofer’s only place there, city records show.
Coincidentally, his address is listed on the sales deed as 120 Riverside Boulevard, an uptown Trump tower.