tampabay.com

Trump Tower could shrink

The much-delayed condo project may be adjusted to fit the slower market.

By James Thorner, Times Staff Writer
Published May 3, 2007


The architectural plans for Trump Tower Tampa may not be set in marble and glass.

The Miami development company negotiating to take over the much-delayed Tampa high-rise suggests the project be revamped to reflect a changing real estate market.

"I think there will be a project built there, " said Eric Fordin, a project manager at the Related Group. "But I'm not sure what form it will take."

That means what's been marketed as the tallest condo skyscraper on Florida's West Coast - with 52 stories and 190 condominiums - could be downsized. But Fordin wouldn't confirm that a cutback was on the table.

"It's just a matter of whether the project planned is the right plan, " he said.

Since its sales launch in February 2005, Trump Tower has trumpeted itself as not just the highest skyscraper, but also most luxurious residential address.

The timing turned out to be poor for developer SimDag LLC. Banks have shied from financing the $300-million building, wary of a housing downturn that has tossed thousands of unsold condos onto the Tampa area market.

Trump Tower, designed with condos ranging from $700, 000 to $6.2-million, remains little more than a grassy acre at 111 S. Ashley Drive on the Hillsborough River. At least two buyers have sued to recover their deposits, and contractors remain unpaid.

Fordin said his company, builder of several Trump condo towers in South Florida, is still trying to hammer out a deal with SimDag. Acquiring the Trump site would be one prong of a larger leap into the Tampa market, he said.

"There's nothing on paper. We're still in negotiations, " Fordin said of SimDag. "We know this is time-sensitive."

One possibility is that SimDag will cut ties with the project entirely. "Part of SimDag would love to be involved in the deal, " Fordin said. "Part of them would like to go home."

SimDag couldn't be reached for comment.

One principal Related hopes to keep around is Donald Trump, the New York tycoon who agreed to license his name to the building for a share of the profits. Fordin said Trump is "comfortable" with a transfer of ownership.

James Thorner can be reached at thorner@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3313