MANHATTAN (CN) – A New York judge cleared the way Thursday for residents of a Trump-branded condominium overlooking the Hudson River to change the building’s name.
DJT Holdings had argued that its 2000 licensing agreement obligates the West Side Manhattan condominium to bare the “Trump Place” name in perpetuity, but New York Supreme Court Judge Eileen Bransten found this morning that residents can change the name so long as they have a supermajority vote.
“The court declines to accept the defendant’s assertion that the parties are required to continue the use of the identification ‘Trump’ in perpetuity,” Judge Bransten said.
A 376-unit luxury building, Trump Place was built on a former rail yard beside Riverside Park. The 92-acre property runs from West 59th Street to West 72nd Street on Riverside Boulevard. Its tenants reportedly voted 158-59 in February 2017 to get the “Trump” sign off their building.
Bransten emphasizing Thursday meanwhile that her ruling is restricted to the language of the licensing agreement, noting that she “is not providing any declaration that tomorrow plaintiff may remove the Trump name from the building facade without fear or threat of being sued.”
Judge Bransten read aloud her 12-page opinion, which she described as a “very lengthy, reasoned decision,” this morning during a one-hour hearing in her sun-drenched courtroom on the fourth floor of the Manhattan Supreme Court.
Eric Trump, one of the former reality-television star’s sons, defended the company’s commitment to branding last month in a statement to the Washington Post. “I will always fight vehemently against rogue individuals not only to protect our incredible owners, but also to protect the legacy of a true visionary who did so much to shape the New York City skyline,” Eric Trump had said.
DJT Holdings is one of six corporate entities to which President Donald Trump transferred ownership stakes in his business empire after his inauguration.
Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Lawrence Rosen, an attorney for DJT Holdings with the firm LaRocca Hornik, said this battle’s conclusion has not ended the war.
“Think about it, going back to the time that unit owners purchased units in this building, they wanted the name Trump on the building, and they probably paid a premium for that,” Rosen said. “And there are many people in this building that want to keep it.”
Any vote to remove the signage, Rosen explained, needs a two-thirds, supermajority vote. Rosen also questioned whether there would be a supermajority to remove the name if the vote also included the nonresidential commercial units in the building.
“I need to process Judge Bransten’s decision, the judge I think was careful in terms of her remarks and in terms of what the next steps may be, there are certain governance protocols that must be followed before the signage on the building can be removed,” Rosen said.
“We’re also going to study Judge Bransten’s decision, obviously we think that she got it wrong, but we respect it, obviously, and consider our appeal rights as well,” the attorney added.
Harry Lipman, a lawyer for the condominium, declined to comment on the decision this morning.
Judge Bransten also dismissed a demand by DJT Holdings for indemnification of legal fees.
This story is developing…