Like a wealthy socialite whose fortune has been swept away by a Ponzi schemer, the Trump Soho still looks as glassy and wealthy from the outside. But the economic climate has changed since the project's conception, money is not as easily obtained or thrown around as it once was, and the sort of nouveau riche people looking for a home base in a status building that, as New York's Justin Davidson pointed out recently flamboyantly doesn't fit in with the city around it, are now fewer and farther between. According to the Journal, ten days before the building's scheduled opening, the Trump Soho is struggling: The project is millions of dollars in debt, and only about a third of the 391 units are now in contract.
The Trump SoHo's disappointing sales expose a huge fault line in the condo-hotel business model. The developers' strategy was to sell the units—at prices starting at $1.2 million for a studio—to investors who would be allowed to stay in them no more than 120 days a year. The rest of the time the units would be operated as hotel rooms under the Trump brand with the investors and the developers sharing the profit.
But sales of units in condo-hotel projects throughout the country have ground to a halt because it's so difficult for individuals to get credit. Instead, most investors would have to pay cash, and many are reluctant to do so when the overall hotel market is so weak.
Will the Trumps be able to find wealthy suitors to keep them in the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed? Or will they have to whore themselves out to commoners to stay afloat? We'll see.