Following the controversy sparked by the alleged request for help with the development of a Trump Tower in Buenos Aires from US President-elect Donald Trump to Argentine President Mauricio Macri — a project that has been stuck in limbo for several years — the City of Buenos Aires’s Ministry of Urban Development informed the media that the project does not have green light to build yet.
In a press release issued on Friday, the Ministry recounted that in 2007 approved a request from investment company Kubic S.A to build the tower in the neighborhood of Microcentro, but the company never followed through. As a result of this, the ministry determined the permit expired three years from its approval, in accordance with local law.
The latest official development came in August 2016, when Repetto Oeste S.A company requested it be allowed to retake the project. However, the ministry didn’t grant the petition arguing “the timeline had expired and thus the request was archived.”
“There is no existing permit and those interested will have to re-start the procedures again from scratch,” the release explains.
Should a request from Trump have existed, it probably would have had to do with getting the Ministry of Urban Development to allow the investment company retake the permit from 2007 instead of having to start the paperwork all over again. In fact, Juan Jose Cugliandolo, general director of the YY Development Group, the investment group in charge of the project, told Clarín their goal when asking for this in August was to “speed up the time this kind of paperwork takes.”
“The only thing they were asking was to avoid presenting all the permits again, as it’s a long and annoying process, because the project for the Trump Tower doesn’t need any special exceptions,” Cugliandolo said.
If finally approved, the Buenos Aires Trump Tower will have 35 floors for offices spanning 800 square meters and four underground levels for service purposes. The location is set for Cerrito street — one of 9 De Julio Avenue’s two sides streets — and each square meter will cost US $5,500. “Our priority is going to be quality, not luxury. We don’t want it to shine, but to be the best option for these type of entrepreneurial businesses.”
On November 20, journalist Jorge Lanata made a surprising revelation in his show Periodismo para Todos when he said Trump had seized Macri’s call to congratulate him on his presidential victory to ask him for the alleged favor.
This and other situations that could cast some doubt over Trump’s actions — such as his meeting with Indian business partners who are building a Trump Tower in Mumbai on November 19th — were widely reported, especially by American media, raising questions about whether he was using the presidency to prop up his business interests.
Another aspect of the conversation that raised eyebrows was the fact that Macri said he said that he used part of the call last week to catch up with Trump’s daughter Ivanka, according to an interview with a Japanese outlet from November 21. As an article from Vox explains, “Her participation in the call had sparked its own wave of controversy earlier in the week since Trump’s children are supposed to be taking the reins on his businesses while staying out of his administration.”
Both Macri and Trump’s offices have denied the claims, arguing they didn’t talk about anything other the future of both countries’ bilateral relations, which, according to the US President-elect, will be “the closest in history.”