Trump: I love Chicago ... and my sign!

Donald Trump speaks to the media during a news conference in New York. (Getty Images)

I would like to preface this article by saying that I have great respect for the City of Chicago and its citizens. I think this is made clear by the amount of time, energy and money I put into constructing a building that has won the highest acclaim on every front since it was built.

This was no easy feat -- we had many obstacles to overcome and it became a labor of love for me and the Trump Organization. We may be centered in New York but Chicago is of equal importance when it comes to one of the gems of great architecture, Trump International Hotel & Tower, Chicago.

My plan for this building began in 2000. I had hoped to build something fantastic in Chicago for some time, and when I was able to acquire this amazing parcel, the former Sun-Times site, it became our focal point and passion for years.

Construction didn't begin until March of 2005, which indicates our painstaking approach to the project. In fact, the architects built many models before we decided on something we all liked. This is a carefully designed building on all levels.

We are pleased to say our work has been rewarded with multiple 5-star awards and ratings for excellence from Forbes,  Conde Nast and many others. It is a highlight of the Chicago architectural boat tour as well and its restaurant, "16", is already considered one of the "hottest" and best restaurants in a city known for culinary sophistication. It is a real winner!

I personally know that the citizens of Chicago realize that they’ve got a total prize also. I understand that I may be associated with New York, but my name is known and respected worldwide. It is a brand that brings a prominence to Chicago by mere fact of recognition -- but also for the inherent quality as shown by the beauty of this building.

It is a fact that my buildings are acclaimed and they have lasting power. Trump Tower New York opened in 1983 and it is still a beautiful and highly successful building that attracts millions of tourists a year. It is the first time I put my name on a building, and I'm glad I did. It's a matter of pride as well as marketing.

A while ago, someone asked me if I was somehow embarrassed by my building in Chicago because my name wasn't on it. Hardly. I'm very proud of it -- and hence, the name.

I received all of the necessary permits from the City of Chicago for the sign. If the City wants to pass legislation prohibiting future signage on new buildings, that is up to them. My sign was fully approved. The response has been extremely positive, other than from a chosen few.

The architectural critic of the Chicago Tribune, Blair Kamin, while liking the building, does not like the sign. That's okay with me in that I have little respect for Mr. Kamin, a lightweight who I got to know all too well -- (why doesn’t he mention all of the other large scale signs all over Chicago?) 

Nevertheless, the worldwide publicity this criticism has caused has not only been good for the building but it has been great for bringing Chicago into the news-- and for something other than the negative news of late. Perhaps the Mayor will thank me someday!

I've been following some of the social media comments regarding this episode, and many people love the sign -- some saying they will now travel to Chicago to see the sign and have their picture taken with it in the background. There were a few comments about it being the new "Hollywood" sign, Chicago-style. Trump is one of the "hottest" and most recognizable brands in the world, and that only works to Chicago's benefit. To me it's a perfect match.

The great architectural critic for the New York Times, the late Herbert Muschamp, said this in regard to the Trump World Tower at U.N. Plaza when it opened in 2002:

"It's not surprising that unofficial approval of Trump's building should come by way of the Museum of Modern Art. The tower embodies the Miesian aesthetic through which the Modern's design department's taste was initially formulated -- I hope Trump sticks with this material. Trump does better when he ignores his critics than when he pays attention to them."

So, with all due respect, I say that I will have to ignore my critics and be pleased that Chicago has such a beautiful building to add to its already wonderful skyline ... and I’m also happy for the flurry of media attention it has brought to the great City of Chicago. The citizens of Chicago deserve it!

Donald J. Trump is chairman and president of The Trump Organization and the founder of Trump Entertainment Resorts.

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