Once upon a time, Donald Trump had a vision for the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
He'd build a huge development that would be called "Trump City," a collection of high-rise apartment buildings set back from the Hudson River behind the West Side Highway with a skyscraper at the southern end.
As so often happens with Trump's plans, that's not exactly what happened. Trump ended up getting sidelined, thanks in part to the public's objections to him personally. (An attendee at a 1992 discussion of the project "suggested he be tarred and feathered," according to the New York Times.) Under new developers, the apartment buildings were built and now bear his name: Trump Place.
But only on the outside, and only because there's a legal agreement that they do so. The Times reported this week that other mentions of Trump's name in the complex will be removed at the behest of residents. The floor mats in the lobby will go from reading "Trump Place" to identifying the building's street address, and "the doormen and concierges have been measured for new uniforms that will no longer carry the Trump name," the Times' Charles Bagli writes.
Travel Weekly reports that the Trump backlash is not limited to those who've bought property in his buildings. A majority of travel agents told the magazine that they were recommending Trump hotels and resorts less than they did before Trump began his campaign; half also said that their clients have said they don't want to stay at Trump properties. After the publication of the Access Hollywood tape in which Trump casually mentions committing sexual assault, travel agents reported an uptick in aversion to Trump. In August, the travel site Hipmunk noted that bookings at Trump properties had dropped 58 per cent, year-over-year.
The most visible sense of this blowback came in a report this week that a new hotel chain owned by Trump wouldn't use the name Trump. Instead, the chain will be called Scion, a decision that a company representative said was because they "didn't want to confuse consumers between the two brands". One can read that as suggesting that the company would rather people not think "Trump" when they see "Scion."
Today, with 13 days until the last votes are cast in the presidential race, Trump swung by the nation's capital to cut the ribbon at his newest hotel, located on Pennsylvania Avenue, a few blocks southwest of the White House.
It probably doesn't need to be mentioned that it's a weird decision to direct media attention at something non-campaign-related in a non-swing-state in the final 325 hours of a months-long race.
Sure, Trump can ostensibly use the moment to remind voters that he's a businessman who does business, man - but it also won't hurt Trump's personal bottom line to plug the new facility at a moment when he has cameras following him around everywhere.
The DC hotel is also where he called that odd news conference shortly before the first debate to give the media a tour of the facility and - oh, right - to say that President Barack Obama was indeed born in the United States. It's a reminder that Trump's visited his own properties with some regularity over the course of the campaign. NBC crunched the numbers and figured that Trump's held 32 events at Trump properties since the campaign began.
Those are just campaign events. It doesn't include his frequent media appearances from Trump Tower, a location that has certainly received more airtime since June 2015 than Trump's wife. (It's not clear if the event at the hotel today is technically related to the campaign. Reporters were told it isn't, but it's on his campaign schedule.)
Trump's hotel business is doomed. But the real estate itself is okay. The way to fix it will be to take his name off everything. Humiliating— Josh Barro (@jbarro) October 26, 2016
There's a sense in which the campaign has been very lucrative for Trump.
According to campaign filings with the Federal Election Commission, the campaign has spent more than US$9.2 million on businesses and properties owned by Trump or his immediate family. That includes US$6.7 million on TAG Air, the company that owns Trump's private planes and US$1.2 million spent renting space at Trump Tower to house the campaign. (Needless to say, there are cheaper places to rent office space than on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.) He's spent more than US$400,000 at Mar-A-Lago to host campaign events that the Huffington Post's S.V. Date points out could have been held at nearby venues for a 10th of the cost. And this doesn't include the amounts that media have spent to stay in Trump properties while on the campaign trail.
Trump seems to be looking ahead to November 10. Unless something dramatic shifts in the presidential race, Trump will not be decamping from the penthouse of Trump Tower to the White House.
When he announced his candidacy and released a document outlining his net worth, a third of the US$10 billion he said he was worth was thanks to his personal brand, a vague figure and descriptor that attempted to encapsulate the value of the word "Trump." If what's happening to his hotels and apartments is any guide, that value has plummeted - and even leveraging the final days of media ubiquity to draw attention to his properties may not be enough to save it.
Trump will almost certainly leave the presidential race much poorer than he entered, by his own standard. He will leave the race diminished.
Unless, through some stunning development, he wins.