If state Attorney General Letitia James seizes Donald Trump’s 40 Wall Street — his largest real estate asset by far — the worse damage would be to New York City.

The troubled but functional landmark office building would become an empty white elephant in Lower Manhattan, which is already reeling from a hemorrhage of tenants to uptown.

“If 40 Wall ends up in limbo, nobody in their right minds — tenants or buyers — would go near it,” said a real estate broker who has done business there. “It needs a fortune in work and the uncertainties would be just too great.”

It’s important to recall that a previous government takeover plunged the cursed tower into a decade of chaos. The stakes are higher now as downtown struggles with a 30% vacancy rate, the highest in its history.

The Feds grabbed the building in 1986 when it was discovered to be secretly owned by Ferdinand Marcos, the corrupt dictator of the Philippines. The action launched a succession of failed auctions, foreclosures, lawsuits and decay that cast a long, dark shadow over the Financial District for a decade.

The Art Deco tower 40 Wall Street is Trump’s biggest real estate asset. AP

Tenants left one after another until the building was 80% empty in the mid-1990s. The turnaround began when Trump bought the leasehold for a lowball price — exactly how much is disputed — in 1995.

He restored it and attracted new tenants. But his real estate company later neglected it when his interests turned to television and politics.

New York Attorney General Letitia James (right) could seize some of Trump’s properties if he can’t come up with the cash to pay his $454 million bond.
Trump bought 40 Wall Street in 1995 and restored it and attracted new tenants. But his real estate company later neglected it when his interests turned to television and politics Trump/ Instagram
At one point, 40 Wall Street was secretly owned by Ferdinand Marcos, the corrupt dictator of the Philippines, but the Feds took control of it in 1986. Bettmann Archive

Duane Reade, the largest store tenant with over 20,000 square feet, moved out last fall — a devastating blow to the dwindling rent roll.

The once-proud tower today is worth perhaps $200 million, brokers say — less than half of its estimated value ten years ago.

Of course, James and her Albany cohorts surely know how to fix it!

Duane Reade moved out of 40 Wall Street last fall — a devastating blow to the dwindling rent roll. William Farrington
“It needs a fortune in work and the uncertainties would be just too great,” a real estate source says of 40 Wall Street. William Farrington

Seizing buildings is the way they do things in China, where the Xi government grabs real estate businesses whose owners either ticked off the bosses in Beijing or made too much money for their own good.

God save 40 Wall Street — and the city — from our home-grown commissars.

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