A-Rod, once despised by Trump, group buys his DC hotel

FILE - A view of the Trump International Hotel is seen, March 4, 2021, in Washington.  Former New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, once vilified by Donald Trump as a

FILE – A view of the Trump International Hotel is seen, March 4, 2021, in Washington. Former New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, once reviled by Donald Trump as a ‘druggie’ and a ‘joke’ unworthy of wearing the stripes, is now a key part of an investment group looking to buy the rights of the former president’s Washington, DC, marquee hotel, people familiar with the deal told The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, file)

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Former New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, once reviled by Donald Trump as a ‘druggie’ and a ‘joke’ unworthy of wearing the stripes, is now a key part of an investment group looking to buy the rights of the former president’s Washington, DC, marquee hotel, people familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.

A-Rod’s involvement in the $375 million deal, which could close within weeks, would make the athlete-turned-entrepreneur an unlikely financial savior for Trump, allowing him to recoup the millions he has invested and maybe even come out with a profit from his lost money. Hotel.

“It’s just more proof that the only thing that matters to Trump is money,” said Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio. “If A-Rod can bail Trump out and get him out of a sticky situation and help him make a profit, he’s going to take this deal, he’ll take it from Hillary Clinton.

While reports late last year identified the buyer as Miami-based CGI Merchant Group, the rental rights to the 263-bedroom property near the White House are actually being bought by a managed fund. by CGI which includes Rodriguez as a general partner, two people familiar with the deal told the AP. The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the deal, declined to detail Rodriguez’s involvement other than to say he is a key investor.

One of the sources identified the fund as the $650 million Hospitality Opportunity Fund that CGI, Rodriguez and New York real estate financier Adi Chugh created in late 2020 to buy hotels with plummeting valuations due to coronavirus closures and rebranding them as a collection of “socially conscious” and “eco-friendly” properties.

But the Trump International Hotel in Washington might not be such a great deal. If the deal is finalized at the currently offered price of $375 million, far higher than pundits predicted, it could allow Trump to emerge with a profit after losing tens of millions of dollars on the hotel so even he has become a magnet for lobbyists, diplomats and GOP supporters.

Taking $375 million would more than offset the $200 million Trump’s company invested in renovating the historic former federally owned post office building into a luxury hotel after signing a lease with the General Services Administration in 2012, as well as the $70 million a congressional oversight committee said the hotel lost during Trump’s four years in office.

Real estate experts say a more realistic price in the current Washington market would be $1 million per room, or about $260 million. But hotel brokers, consultants and other experts contacted by AP say it is extremely difficult to determine the fair value of this particular property, in part because it is a lease in the process of being sold. Additionally, the only name above the door since it opened more than five years ago is Trump’s and it’s unclear how many guests might enter once those five divisive letters are removed.

Rodriguez, reached through his spokesperson on Monday, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did the Trump Organization. CGI and Surya Capital, the third partner in the hotel fund led by Indian-born investor Chugh, declined to comment. The GSA, which must approve any lease transfer, also did not respond to a request for comment.

News of Rodriguez’s involvement in the Trump hotel deal brings two infamously polarizing figures together and has thrown a new spotlight on their often tumultuous relationship.

Trump, a longtime Yankees fan, said in a 2012 radio interview that he had never been a fan of Rodriguez – either as a player or as a person – citing an unspecified ‘bad experience’ he had with A-Rod when he lived at Trump’s Park Avenue building.

Trump also tweeted about A-Rod dozens of times, mostly between 2011 and 2013 before Major League Baseball suspended Rodriguez for the entire 2014 season for use and possession of banned performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone. and human growth hormone, and attempting to obstruct MLB’s investigation.

“The @Yankees should stop paying A-Rod immediately – he signed his contract without telling them he was a junkie,” @realDonaldTrump said on Opening Day 2013.

“Druggie A-Rod disgraced the blessed organization @Yankees, lied to fans & embarrassed NYC. He doesn’t deserve to wear the stripes,” Trump said in another tweet.

But in recent years, there seemed to be a cooling. Trump praised A-Rod when the two appeared together at a charity reception at his Bronx golf course in 2015. And Trump reportedly called the All-Star 14 times at the start of the pandemic in 2020 for advice on how to deal with the coronavirus.

That didn’t stop Rodriguez and his then-fiancée Jennifer Lopez from appearing in an online campaign ad for Joe Biden just weeks before the 2020 presidential election, urging Hispanic voters to run for the democrat.

A-Rod’s prior political activity included donations to Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Republican Mitt Romney in 2012, a gift Trump felt compelled to tweet at the time: “I started to worry a lot about Mitt’s chances when I heard A-Rod donated to his campaign. Everything A-Rod touches goes wrong.

Since Rodriguez, 46,’s playing days ended in 2016, he has focused heavily on investing, including being part of a $1.5 billion deal last year to buy the Minnesota Timberwolves of the NBA. Rodriguez also owns numerous office, retail, and residential properties, and stakes in dozens of businesses, including online grocery stores, private plane sharing, a beer brand, and gym and fitness chains. yoga.

Rodriguez was an enthusiastic supporter of the $650 million Hospitality Opportunity Fund when it launched in December 2020 with plans to buy more than 20 hotels, praising lead investor CGI for its socially responsible investing approach that focuses on helping the “communities he calls home.”

Jamaican-born CGI chief executive Raoul Thomas has made major donations to Democratic politicians and is turning to an increasingly popular marketing strategy that promises to tackle social injustice and global warming . The website of CGI, which owns mostly office and retail properties in the Miami area, touts what it calls “certified mindful” properties that help local groups working on social, health and environmental issues. and are committed to reducing their carbon footprint.

The fund has so far purchased and renovated two hotels under the Gabriel name in the Miami area and a third on the campus of Morris Brown College in Atlanta, a deal that included $30 million from CGI for the historically black school is developing a hotel and hospitality training program.

If the Trump Hotel purchase follows this pattern, a property that was once filled with GOP politicians rallying around a president who ridiculed “woke” liberal culture and once called global warming a “Chinese hoax” will would end up pledging 1% of the chamber’s revenue to local charities, buying from local businesses and using eco-friendly products.

Trump biographer D’Antonio said, “The idea of ​​someone taking over this recklessly right-wing citadel and turning it into a haven for socially and environmentally conscious people is delightful.”

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Condon reported from New York. News researcher Rhonda Shafner contributed to this report.

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