DE PERE, Wis., March 30 (UPI) -- Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump offered praise for a famously controversial real estate developer credited with inventing the suburb, but who refused to sell homes to black people.
Trump made the off-the-cuff remarks about developer William Levitt during a speech at St. Norbert College in Wisconsin on Wednesday. The Hill reported Trump was speaking off-script when he praised Levitt as "the ultimate real estate developer."
Trump offered the Levitt tribute as a cautionary tale about "momentum." Levitt sold his profitable business and retired early, then tried to re-emerge and was never able to reclaim the success he had initially in the real estate business.
Levitt is widely credited with creating the template for suburban areas with his Levittown development on Long Island in the 1950s. The developments created thousands of nearly identical, 800-square-foot homes that returning World War II veterans purchased with money from the GI Bill. The developments were widely copied across the country, though they were also ridiculed for the cookie-cutter nature of the homes Levitt built.
The developments were also controversial for the racial overtones. Levitt's housing contracts included all-caps type stipulating homes in the development were only to be sold to Caucasian families and should not be owned or occupied by black people.
Whether he intended to or not, Levitt created an atmosphere where many more affluent white families moved, leaving inner cities en masse in the decades to follow.
The U.S. Supreme Court later banned housing discrimination as unconstitutional, though Levitt's developments largely kept an unofficial no-blacks policy for decades afterward.
A clip of Trump's remarks was posted on YouTube by an unidentified Trump supporter, who termed the anecdote "beautiful."