EXCLUSIVE: The Girl Scouts want to ditch their NYC offices because they're in a Trump tower

EXCLUSIVE: The Girl Scouts want to ditch their NYC offices because they're in a Trump tower

January 22, 2021
  • The Girl Scouts of Greater New York said it is trying to exit its lease at 40 Wall Street, a Manhattan office tower known as the Trump Building that is controlled by Donald Trump's family real estate firm.
  • Their attempt to ditch their office space is the latest in a string of groups looking to cut ties with Trump and properties run by the Trump Organization.
  • Legal experts say it might be difficult for Trump tenants to extricate themselves from leases at Trump properties.  
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Earlier in Donald Trump's tenure, the Girl Scouts of America faced criticism for what seemed like tacit support of the president. They marched in Trump's inaugural parade four years ago despite unsavory comments he has made about women, for example, and in recent months briefly praising his pick of the conservative justice Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court.

On Wednesday, as the US House of Representatives moved to impeach the president for instigating a siege of the Capitol, the New York chapter of the Girl Scouts told Insider it would seek to leave 40 Wall Street, the Trump-controlled tower in Lower Manhattan where it has its offices.

"In 2014, the Girl Scouts of Greater New York entered into a 15-year lease at 40 Wall Street," Meridith Maskara, the CEO of the Girl Scouts of Greater New York, said in a statement provided to Insider by a spokeswoman for the Girl Scouts of America.

"As a matter of very high priority, our organization has been exploring options for getting out of the lease and the building," Maskara said. "We continue to investigate our options and work to find an office space that would best serve the girls of New York City."

The spokeswoman for the Girl Scouts of America specified that the New York area chapter, like other local branches of the organization, was a separate entity with its own board of directors and staff.  

The organization's desire to wrest itself from its lease at a Trump property follows decisions by other groups to cut ties with the president. On Tuesday night, the real estate services firm, Cushman & Wakefield, told Business Insider that it would no longer do business with the Trump Organization, Trump's family real estate firm.

See also: Blackstone billionaire Stephen Schwarzman defended his support for Trump. Now his allies are trying to put distance between the two

As part of Cushman's decision, the company is dropping its assignment to handle leasing work for the Trump Organization at 40 Wall Street and Trump Tower, the Fifth Avenue office and residential spire where Trump has a penthouse apartment and the Trump Organization bases its headquarters.

JLL, another real estate services firm, separately said it will no longer work with the Trump Organization on a potential sale of a hotel that the Trump Organization developed and operates in Washington DC's Old Post Office building.

Although the Girl Scouts may want to exit 40 Wall Street, it likely has few, if any, legal levers to get out of its lease, which binds them to their offices there for eight more years.

"There's no shortage of landlords in the history of New York City who have done things that one might not be proud of," said Meyer Last, a partner in the law firm Fried Frank's real estate practice. "But leases are rock-solid contracts that require you to pay your rent over a period of time. There's no easy way to get out."

The Girl Scouts has the option of trying to sublease its space and relocating. Tenants across the New York City market, however, have similarly cast millions of square feet on the sublease market in recent months amid the pandemic.

Amid such a glut of supply — and the number of companies that still have remote-work policies — it's difficult to find takers for available offices. And it's somewhat unlikely that the Girl Scouts would make a huge financial sacrifice to order to take a stand.

"Most tenants are not going to take a huge loss on their space just for the sake of sticking it to the landlord," Last said.

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