Donald Trump must have breathed a sigh of relief as 1995 drew to a close.
The epic crash of New York City (NYC) real estate, which had battered Trump’s investments and left many of his fellow real estate investors clinging to any lifeline of solvency, was finally over. Prices of New York City real estate, which had fallen in each of the previous five years, had finally started to rise.
Apartment rental prices fell by 15 percent during the slump that had begun in 1988. The prices of co-ops and condos were down by nearly twice that much. Manhattan homes fell by 32.9 percent between 1989 and 1996, according to a study by the Furman Center for Real Estate & Urban Policy. In Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen — that westside stretch where Trump had invested so much in a plan to turn an old railyard into a new neighborhood — home prices fell 40.4 percent.
The giant Canadian real estate company Olympia & York had declared bankruptcy. At one point, it had been the largest landlord in New York. By 1992, it had fired its bankers from J.P. Morgan and hired Felix G. Rohatyn, the guy who had saved New York City itself from the brink of bankruptcy in the 1970s. In the end, it would be swallowed up by its creditors, vanishing into the ash heap of history.
Yet according to the New York Times story detailing glimpses at Trump’s finances from “tax transcripts” of his filings from 1985 to 1994, Trump’s personal financial losses during the New York City real estate crisis somehow mark him as a failure rather than someone who persevered through an economic storm.