Just in case there wasn't enough evidence that Donald Trump is the worst, the Times returns to a decades-long incident in one of the billionaire businessman's namesake towers where he removed a public bench only to set up store selling Trump-branded goods. The debacle is a slightly less ostentatious display of Trump's gross intolerance for the human race at large.
Here's the backstory: the soaring atrium of Trump Tower at 721 Fifth Avenue was dedicated to the city as privately-owned public space when it opened in 1983 as part of an agreement that allowed Trump to build an additional 20 stories. The agreement goes on to mandate how the space will benefit the public with things like seating, which in the 80s included a black marble bench that was "a popular destination for Fifth Avenue shoppers and workers to relax." According to the Times, the bench disappeared sometime in the last decade only to be replaced by the shopping counter pedaling copies of The Apprentice and Trump's colognes, which take names like Success and Empire (of course). Before the bench was illicitly removedwithout a permit from the DoBit was covered in planters rendering it unusable. Trump's reasoning for the pots, in a 1984 written statement to the DoB, is this: "We have had tremendous difficulties with respect to the benchdrug addicts, vagrants, et cetera have come to the atrium in large numbers ... Additionally, all sorts of 'horrors' had been taking place that effectively ruined the beautiful ambience of the space which everyone loves so much."
Philip Schneider, who handled the bench issue as a Department of Buildings employee, was quick to point out to the Times that Trump's idea of improvement "may not be the same as everybody else's" and that once a developer gets what they want out of a privately owned public space deal, it becomes difficult to ensure that the public gets what's promised to them. So far, Trump's gotten away with a $2,500 fine; it's a figurative smack on the wrist for the very wealthy man. All of this just goes to say that it's no wonder everyone who works in his Coney Island shopping center, Trump Village, thinks the guy's a schmuck.
· An Altar to Donald Trump Swallows Up Public Space in Manhattan [NYT]
· Hamill: No Donald Trump supporters at Trump Village in Coney Island [NYDN]
· Designs on the Public: The Private Lives of New York's Public Spaces [Google Books]
· The Epicenter of Donald Trump's Real Estate Empire, Mapped [Curbed]
· 10 Things We Learned About the Real Estate Market from Donald Trump's Presidential Announcement Speech [Curbed]
· Donald Trump Filled the Ground Floor of Trump Tower with Campaign T-Shirts [Racked]
· All Donald Trump coverage [Curbed]