With real estate values rising across Doral, Donald Trump’s primary resort property in the city received some tax relief this summer after Miami-Dade appraisers concluded that sales continued to drop at the hotel.
Miami-Dade’s property appraiser released 2019 appraised values for 20 parcels that make up the Trump National Doral Miami, which the White House this week all but declared the site for the G7 summit in 2020. While the combined value of the parcels now is higher than it was in 2018, the main property that houses the 643-room hotel and conference center saw its value drop by 2 percent in 2019.
An official at the appraiser’s office said the value drop was due to county appraisers concluding that income at the commercial property was down. The official, who did not want to be quoted discussing an individual property, said confidentiality rules bar the county from releasing the financial details behind the valuation.
The slight decline in appraised values for a Trump Doral parcel, from $79.6 million to $78 million, extends a trend of declining sales for a presidential property that has suffered since its owner joined the race for the White House in 2015.
The resort’s signature golf tournament bolted for Mexico after candidate Trump staked his campaign on a crackdown on illegal border crossings. A Trump consultant won a $4.7 million valuation drop on the properties in 2018 after submitting internal sales reports to a county appeals board showing the Trump Doral losing sales while competitors in the Miami area were gaining.
In 2017, the Trump report showed the president’s Doral property was collecting about $200 a night compared to $250 on average for competitors elsewhere in the Miami market. The internal reports, made public during the tax appeal, also showed the Trump Doral’s revenue dropped from $92 million in 2015 to $75 million in 2017, an 18 percent decline for the first year of the Trump presidency.
Trump Doral, which the president’s company bought out of bankruptcy in 2012, may be in line for a revenue boost, thanks to its famous owner. President Trump this week confirmed that his Doral property was in the running for a global summit he would host as president next year. On Monday, the White House Twitter feed appeared to go further when it said the president “shares the location of the next @G7 summit” over a video of Trump talking about the Doral resort.
On Tuesday, Trump responded to a wave of social media posts mocking the Doral over a 2017 Miami Herald article about a settlement from a guest who claimed bedbug bites from a stay at the resort.
In his response, Trump posted on Twitter: “No bedbugs at Doral. The Radical Left Democrats, upon hearing that the perfectly located (for the next G-7) Doral National MIAMI was under consideration for the next G-7, spread that false and nasty rumor. Not nice!”
Lazaro Solis, the county’s deputy property appraiser, said the initial valuation of a commercial property reflects an estimate from the appraiser’s office of a performance by a business based on market data, the condition of an individual property and any other information that can help appraisers with their calculations. He said detailed internal information tends to come during an appeals process of the initial value estimate, which is what’s used to calculate a property’s annual tax bill. If nothing changes, the Trump Doral parcel that saw a drop in its value would owe about $1.4 million to local governments in 2019.
In a statement, the property appraiser’s office said “the 2019 valuation of Trump Doral decreased as a result of overall occupancy rates.” Solis said hotel rates are part of the calculations, but that other factors can play a role in the final value, too. “It could be any number of things,” he said.
During Trump’s first visit as president to the Doral for a June 19 fundraiser, most of the rooms were empty and occupancy was reported at 23 percent. The property’s members-only golf club has also shown weakness, with membership sales down compared to prior years, according to documents provided by ex-members eager to get refunds on deposits they paid to join years ago.
In 2019, the total valuations for the 20 parcels within the Trump Doral hit $105.9 million, according to the tax notice posted on the property appraiser website this month. That’s up less than 1 percent from the 2018 value of $105.7 million. The biggest gain came from the undeveloped parcel that holds the resort’s parking lot, which saw its market value rise 19 percent to $7 million. There was no immediate explanation from the property appraiser’s office for the surge in value for the undeveloped parcel.
While residential properties see taxable values rise and fall each year based on market conditions, commercial properties are assessed based on how much income the property produces. That requires the county to make a conclusion on sales for properties like the Trump Doral in calculating yearly tax bills.
A decline in value for the Trump resort bucks the trend in Doral, where overall commercial properties saw valuations increase 2.8 percent in 2019, according to a summary from the property appraiser.
While the initial valuation set by the property appraiser is based on estimated income from the Trump Doral, the owner can still appeal the calculation with more detailed information. That’s the process that led to past revelations about the Trump Doral’s business struggles, including a quote at a 2018 hearing from a Trump consultant citing “some negative connotation that is associated with the brand.”