The Donald and The Deal
September 30, 1996: 11:45 a.m. ET

Art of the deal: Tycoon buys 55 Wall Street for a paltry $20 million
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - The Donald is buying The Building -- architectural gem 55 Wall Street.
     Investor Donald Trump has agreed to buy 55 Wall Street -- a 154-year-old Greek Revival office building that once housed the New York Stock Exchange -- for a bargain $20 million.
     Trump told The New York Times he expects the deal, reached with Kajima Inc.'s Commercial Development International/East subsidiary, to close by year's end.
     The building originally housed the New York Stock Exchange before becoming the New York Customs House in 1863.
     Notables who passed through its granite columns on their way to work included Herman Melville, who spent 18 years in the building as a customs inspector and wrote part of "Moby Dick" while employed there.
     Chester A. Arthur also worked in the building as the Collector of Customs in New York a decade before he became president of the United States in 1881.
     In 1908, the venerable firm McKim, Mead & White built an extension onto the building, adding a nine-story structure to the original four-story base and rotunda.
     The site next became the headquarters of the First National City Bank of New York, eventually housing a Citibank branch.
     Hollywood has also used 55 Wall Street as a backdrop for parts of a "Batman" sequel and "Die Hard with a Vengeance."
     Non-U.S. investors bought the building in 1990 for $69.1 million, although some reports placed the figure at closer to $83 million.
     But since then, several key tenants have moved out, leaving the site essentially vacant.
     Trump wouldn't disclose his plans for the 55 Wall Street.
     But sources close to the real-estate magnate told the newspaper that The Donald is in talks to turn the structure's famous rotunda into a bank branch or trendy restaurant.
     The rotunda has marble walls and a 72-foot-high dome that rivals the majesty of New York's Grand Central Terminal.
     Topping the list of potential eateries for the rotunda -- House of Blues, the Hard Rock Café and Planet Hollywood.
     Trump said he does not expect to have any trouble finding tenants to fill the building's empty office space.
     He told the Times: "It's one of the easiest to rent that I've ever seen because it is one of the most beautiful buildings at the most important financial location in the world."Back to top


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