Unbelievably, Jared Kushner has not brought peace to the Middle East (I’d desperately hoped Israelis and Palestinians might sign an accord agreeing that Kushner is 97 percent colostomy bag and 3 percent human, and that peace would blossom from that historic rapprochement, but no dice.)
Still, like an idiot savant whose preternatural talent is money-grubbing, he’s managed to effect positive change — for himself.
Jared and Ivanka have been promoting something called Opportunity Zones, which give big tax breaks to real estate developers who invest in distressed communities.
Hey, that actually sounds like it might be a good idea that could, at least in theory, benefit low-income people — so you knew there had to be a catch.
Trump and Kushner jointly own a big stake in a real estate investment firm, Cadre, that recently announced it is launching a series of Opportunity Zone funds that seek to build major projects under the program from Miami to Los Angeles. Separately, the couple owns interests in at least 13 properties held by Kushner's family firm that could qualify for the tax breaks because they are in Opportunity Zones in New Jersey, New York and Maryland — all of which, a study found, were already coming back.
Six of the Kushner Cos. buildings are in New York City's Brooklyn Heights area, with views of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan skyline, where a five-bedroom apartment recently listed for $8 million. Two more are in the beach town of Long Branch, N.J., where some oceanfront condos within steps of a white-tablecloth Italian restaurant and a Lululemon yoga shop list for as much as $2.7 million.
The CBS story notes that there’s no proof Ivanka and Airhead had a role in selecting the Opportunity Zones, but the couple could profit from the program regardless, “even if they don't do anything — by potentially benefiting from a recent surge in Opportunity Zone property values amid a gold rush of interest from developers and investors.”
Ivanka Trump's advocacy for the Opportunity Zone program “creates a direct conflict of interest with her spouse's investment in Cadre,” said Virginia Canter, chief ethics counsel for the nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “Jared Kushner's interests are Ivanka Trump's interests and vice versa.”
This is what happens when you have a key White House job and don’t put your assets in a blind trust — or, I don’t know, stop trying to build a massive tower in Moscow when you’re running for president. You rob the rest of us blind.
Meanwhile, there’s plenty of evidence that some of these Opportunity Zones are simply an opportunity for wealthy real estate developers to further cash in on neighborhoods that were already gentrifying.
A study by the Urban Institute in Washington found that nearly a third of the more than 8,700 Opportunity Zones nationwide — and all 13 of the ones containing Kushner properties — were showing signs of heavy investment and gentrification, based on such factors as rent increases and the percentage of college-educated residents.
The Kushners' most immediate advantage could come from their investment in Cadre. CEO Ryan Williams announced late last month that Cadre was starting up an Opportunity Zone fund that would aim to build major development projects in designated areas of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Phoenix, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Miami.
So, yeah, these definitely are opportunity zones. And even if they’re as dumb as buckets of flaming hair, I&J know an opportunity to become (more) grotesquely rich when they see one.
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