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Trump condos still up in air

A broken promise of an answer keeps project in limbo.

By JAMES THORNER, Times Staff Writer
Published September 8, 2007


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This week was supposed to climax Trump Tower Tampa's two-year pursuit of financing.

Area developer SimDag LLC promised either to seal a deal to build the $300-million luxury high-rise or concede defeat and refund buyers' deposits on condominiums costing up to $6-million.

But as the work week drew to a close Friday, the project found itself in familiar territory: limbo.

SimDag announced on its Web site in late August that it was nearing the point when its proposed lender, a New York hedge fund, would decide whether to commit to the project.

One condition of the deal was whether Donald Trump, the New York tycoon and lifestyle icon who would license his brand name to the project, drops a lawsuit against SimDag. Trump's suit was filed in May and demanded $1.03-million in fees owed by SimDag.

Negotiations among the three parties continued for much of this week. But as of Friday, SimDag would neither claim victory nor admit defeat.

"As soon as we hear we'll let you know," SimDag executive Eby Paul told the St. Petersburg Times in an e-mail Friday.

Buyers, who placed deposits of 20 percent on units costing from $700,000 to $6-million, had been told to expect a decisive turn of events by Wednesday. By Friday, it appeared they had been left hanging.

"They've e-mailed us nothing new," George Galiourides, one of the condo buyers, said Friday.

After a grand introductory gala in February 2005, the proposed 52-story tower at 111 S. Ashley Drive has struggled to find its footing.

Banks have steered clear of financing the project in the slumping housing market. And last year developers learned that underground instability on the 1.5-acre riverfront site would require expensive new pilings.

According to Trump's lawsuit in May, fewer than 70 percent of the 190 units had "bona-fide purchase contracts." Several buyers have sued to get their money back.

James Thorner can be reached at thorner@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3313. Read and comment on his housing blog, (Un)Real Estate, at blogs.tampabay.com/realestate/

[Last modified September 7, 2007, 23:23:57]


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