The building's owner, JCF Capital, reached an agreement in June with the Trump Organization to remove the U.S. president's name from the building; a move experts say was motivated by bad publicity associated with Trump's divisive politics
TORONTO—The “Trump” sign is no longer on the Trump International Hotel and Tower in downtown Toronto.
Workers removed the sign from the 65-storey tower Tuesday.
U.S. President Donald Trump never owned the building, but his Trump Organization licensed his name to and operated the hotel, which has struggled financially and been the focus of a long-running legal battle after opening in 2012.
The building’s owner, JCF Capital, said last month that it had reached an agreement with a unit of the Trump Organization to buy out management contracts for the property for an undisclosed amount and remove the president’s name from the property.
It’s unclear when the name will be changed, and the company’s website still lists the property as bearing the Trump name.
Trump-branded properties, including a recently opened tower in Vancouver, have been the target of protesters angry about the U.S. president’s policies.
JCF declined to say why the company bought out the management contracts.
The rebranding is likely a business move as Trump’s brand was probably hurting demand, said Pankaj Aggarwal, a marketing professor at the University of Toronto-Scarborough, adding that the tower’s Canadian location adds to the case.
“The core value of Canada is somewhat different (than the U.S),” he said, pointing to Canadians’ choice of a Liberal government in the most recent federal election as an example of differing views on issues like immigration.
A Pew Research Center poll from June found that for the first time since it start polling in Canada, the percentage of Canadians with a favourable view of the U.S. fell below half, with just 43 per cent indicating a positive view.
Trump’s brand was fairly straightforward as long as the only association customers had was “luxury, excellence and all the glamour,” said Gabor Forgacs, an associate professor at the Ted Rogers School of hospitality and tourism management at Toronto’s Ryerson University.
But once Trump entered politics, his brand became entangled with his election platform, rooted in protectionist policies. These included a ban on travel to the U.S. from several predominantly Muslim countries and a promise to build a wall along the Mexico-U.S. border.
“That clouded the brand in a way that is not favourable,” Forgacs said.
The tower’s target customers—wealthy individuals—who found themselves disagreeing with Trump’s politics, personality or conduct have a plethora of other luxury options in Toronto and elsewhere in the world, he added.
Representatives of both JCF and the Trump Organization said in a press release that their relationship has been good and they may work again together in the future. Both sides declined to comment further.
The 65-storey Toronto tower was built by developer Alex Schnaider, who formed the original business relationship with the Trump Organization. His company, Talon International, later defaulted on a loan from an Austrian bank, which sold the loan to JCF Capital.
An Ontario judge approved the $298-million bid by JCF, a joint venture between Juniper Capital Partners and Cowie Capital Partners, to acquire the property in late March.
Last October, an Ontario court ruled in favour of investors who had launched a lawsuit alleging they were misled when they bought units in the residential portion of the tower. The investors scored another victory in March when Canada’s highest court refused to hear an appeal of the ruling.