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Trump celebrates: 'Let them eat cake.' (Donald Trump's Riverside South construction project in New York, New York completes permit process)

Hundreds of well wishers gathered last week with developer Donald J. Trump at the Universalist Church on Central Park West to celebrate the successful passage of the $3 billion Riverside South plan through the New York City permit process.

"I come not to praise Donald Trump but to challenge him," said Westpride's founder, Bruce Simon. "To convert what we have won on paper to reality -- to build ... and to ensure what we have stays with us, so the dream is fully realized."

Trump laughed in delight at the return of phrase, knowing that unlike Caesar -- who was praised at his funeral by Mark Anthony -- Trump has 6.5 years of development time to construct the shell of one building. Riverside South will ultimately cosist of about 5,700 apartments in 16 building and a 1.8 million-square-foot film and television studio on a 74.6-acre waterfront site on Manhattan's West Side. The studio space will go through the full Uniform Land Use Review Procedure when a tenant is found.

In his own remarks, Trump had nothing but words of praise for the community groups that fought him and then joined with him as the Riverside South Planning Corp. (RSPC). Under this umbrella, the Municipal Art Society, the Natural Resources Defense Council, The Parks Council, the Regional Plan Association, Riverside Park Fund and Westpride designed the plan for Riverside South that safely ran the gamut of city bureaucracy. Trump singled out Richard Kahan, president of the RSPC., as well as other individuals and groups, to thank. Indeed, the entire affair, complete with a small orchestra and buffet supper was a huge thank you to the plan's supporters.

Trump noted particular admiration for Richard Schaffer, chairman of the City Planning Commission, who ensured varying interests were appeased by project givebacks. "A standup guy," Trump called him, "tough as hell ... but he made us do what was right."

With unemployment running 13 to 14 percent, Trump told the more than a dozen gathered construction union leaders he would get their members back to work, fast. He held tribute to their orderly demonstrations of support and thanked them profusely for their efforts, later posing with them for dozens of photos.

He also complimented Kent Barwick, president of the Municipal Art Society for the concept of the six-foot long celebratory cake. A rendition of the West Side Highway, it was complete with tiny cars, and represented the piece that would be torn down and reconstructed inland under the new apartment buildings, making way for a 21.5 acre riverfront park.

Trump and many others, including Commissioner of Transportation Lucius Riccio, massacred the cake with long knives, symbolically destroying the highway. It is well worth remembering, however, that repairs on that portion of the highway are still underway and funding for Riverside South rests on changes and programs that are yet to be completed by the Clinton administration.
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Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Weiss, Lois
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Mar 3, 1993
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