Everyone knows that GOP nominee and lukewarm acid gargle Donald Trump is a dealmaker par excellence ― that’s just science, man! But what many of you can’t appreciate is that Trump is also a peacemaker ― and on a global scale, to boot.
In an interview this week with the Portland Press Herald in Maine, Trump said that he is the only candidate in the race who can possible achieve total “global harmony.” All you need to do to see that is take a look at his past, and use your brain’s supply of logic-sauce to just scale up.
Let’s go to the tape!
Q: What was the best deal you ever made – the best deal?
A: Maybe the West Side Railroad Yards on the west side of Manhattan, that was one of the great deals that I made, one of the best real estate deals …we built almost 6,000 units on the west side of Manhattan, land, a very successful job.
You know what, though? “A very successful job” is really just one way of looking at it. Over at Bloomberg, Tim O’Brien remembers it as a “bungled ... deal of a lifetime.” So, a bit of a jaundiced view, I guess.
The basic backstory is this. In the mid-1970s, Trump used his family connections to purchase a large tract of land along the Hudson River side of Manhattan, between 59th and 72nd streets, that came available after its previous holders, the Penn Central Transportation Co., went bankrupt. Trump spent the next few years dithering with the property ― at one point losing ownership ― before repurchasing the plot in the mid-1980s. By this time, Trump had big dreams for the project, imagining it as a new home for NBC that was, depending on who you were talking to, dubbed either “Television City” or “Trump City.”
As O’Brien relates, all Trump really needed was to “bring together different stakeholders” and “appease [their] interests.” So, naturally, what happened is that Trump got himself into an epic shooting war with then-New York Mayor Ed Koch over a tax abatement. Per O’Brien: “The battle played out in a carnivalesque stream on TV and on the front pages and gossip columns of newspapers.” Koch eventually stuck it to Trump, denying him his zoning request and providing NBC with sufficient tax breaks to induce the network to remain in its Rockefeller Center home.
Trump vowed to develop the West Side Yards his way after Koch departed office, but never did. Instead, as O’Brien reports, this happened:
In 1994, with the Yards bleeding about $23.5 million in annual carrying costs, and long after Koch had departed City Hall, Trump’s bankers forced him to give up control of the site. The property went to a group of Hong Kong investors, including New World Development, for $82 million and the assumption of about $250 million in debt Trump had amassed.
The Hong Kong investors later broke ground on the site with a series of high-end condominiums known as Riverside South, and the group used Trump’s name on some of the buildings there (they also paid him management and construction fees). The Hong Kong group sold the entire project for about $1.8 billion in 2005 ― the largest residential real estate transaction in New York City’s history at the time.
So that’s the story of what Trump calls “the best deal he ever made.” With that in mind, let’s proceed to the Press Herald’s follow-up question:
Q: What would be the best deal you could negotiate as president of the United States?
A: Peace all over the world would be the best deal. And I think I would know how to do it better than anybody else, but peace all over the world.
Sure, man. The largely failed “Television City” deal ― which Trump has described as a “war to the death” and which featured Ed Koch taunting him as a “piggy, piggy, piggy” ― is obviously a precursor to Trump bringing us “peace all over the world.”
Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost Politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.