“For us, we had to do something different,” said Donald Trump Jr. last week, his voice rising with excitement.
Freshly tanned from a recent visit to Mexico, where he was overseeing a new project, the slicked-back scion grew steadily more enthusiastic as he discussed 40 Wall Street, an office tower that, with its rising and falling tenant roster, has contributed to the Trump Organization executive vice president’s growing reputation as a competent steward of the family name, a reliable fixer and successful dealmaker in his own right.
“When I took over the building, there was a lull in the market,” recalled Mr. Trump, who said the address remains one of his well-known father’s favorite properties. “By the time we fixed everything up and got it going, there was a high. It was certainly a unique experience. My focus had been on residential development as well as some resort hotel development, so to learn that part of the business and to spend time with that part of the business was fascinating to me. So I got involved and made it a big part of my day-to-day life.”
Indeed, 40 Wall Street had languished in the Trump portfolio since the mid-’90s, when family paterfamilias Donald Trump purchased the building from Kinson Properties, a Hong Kong-based company. Back then, internal discussions raged on whether to convert the office tower into residential property or to keep it as offices, according to insiders. The senior Trump eventually settled on keeping it as an office tower, and nearly 20 years after that decision, 40 Wall Street’s fortunes fell on his oldest son, who until then had never managed an office building.
(Disclaimer: Mr. Trump is the brother-in-law of Observer Media Group owner Jared Kushner.)
The junior Trump had spent much of his career overseeing a stretch of luxury developments along the West Side rail yards. He then jumped from project to project, working on construction of Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago and handling Trump licensing deals across the world.
But managing an office building as storied as 40 Wall Street, until recently known among tenant brokers as a difficult place to do business in part because of at least one Trump executive’s heavy involvement with leasing at the address, was entirely new to Mr. Trump.