WEST PALM BEACH — The ten-foot letters that spell TRUMP PLAZA atop the east and west sides of a two-tower condo complex in downtown West Palm Beach suddenly vanished a couple weeks ago.
They’d been ablaze high above downtown and the Intracoastal nightly without interruption for at least 24 years, even when rebellious residents who objected President Donald Trump’s divisive electioneering unsuccessfully tried to change the building’s name.
The letters were taken down just days after a protest brought dozens of opponents to Trump’s White House on the door steps of the well-heeled residents.
But finding out what happened to the letters is a lot like covering the Trump administration: Depends whom you’re asking!
The official line comes from Trump Plaza of The Palm Beaches Condominium Association President Abe Bernstein.
He says the board voted to build a new roof on both towers and re-paint the entire structures.
“For us to be able to do that, we needed to take down the letters,” said Bernstein, a Mar-a-Lago regular. “They’ll be down for three to four months then they’re going back up.”
Bernstein denied Trump Plaza is trying to make the building less of a magnet for protests.
“It’s a free country,” Bernstein said. “People are welcome to protest here at any time for as long as they’re respectful.”
Then there’s the unofficial line, from one of the complex’ 350-plus residents who asked to remain anonymous.
“The building staffers have been telling residents that once the roof is repaired, we’ll revisit the issue of the building name,” the resident said. “But that’ll take a while.”
With condos currently selling for upward of $3 million, the aging building at 525 South Flagler is home to many people who can’t afford a home in Palm Beach but like to look at the town from their balcony.
Trump paid $40 million to buy the building in bankruptcy in 1986, when it was known as The Plaza, then borrowed another $60 million to spruce it up.
At that time, however, condo sales were slow and the building never paid the dividends Trump had hoped for. So he had friendly residents of the 33-story, 221-unit structure approve a new name, Trump Plaza, and made sure the letters on the top of the buildings could be seen from both Palm Beach and West Palm Beach.
Then, he defaulted on the loan.
The Trump signs did come down for a cleanup in February 1994. At the time, too, some residents managed to force a vote before the letters were put back.