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Trump Tower buyers' anxiety soothed

The developer offers concessions and gives evidence of funding.

By JAMES THORNER, Times Staff Writer
Published October 26, 2007


After 21/2 years of delays, it took 21/2 hours to get condominium buyers back on board the unsteady ship that has been Trump Tower Tampa.

A majority of buyers emerged from a Wednesday night meeting with developer SimDag LLC re-engaged to a project launched in February 2005 with a whirlwind visit by New York mogul Donald Trump.

"The general mind-set is to move forward and give SimDag a little time to get their financing," said Don Wallace, a Sarasota restaurateur who has invested in two of the proposed 190 units. "There wasn't total agreement, but that was the general upshot."

About 60 buyers, many of them mutinous after watching millions of dollars of deposit money molder for years, summoned the private meeting at the Centre Club in Tampa's West Shore district.

But reassurances from SimDag president Frank Dagostino may have calmed nerves for now. According to Wallace, who organized the meeting, Dagostino promised secure financing by December from an undisclosed New York hedge fund.

Two things have to happen first. Trump, who sued SimDag in May over $1-million in unpaid licensing fees for the 52-story luxury high-rise, will have to shelve his lawsuit. He's verbally agreed to do so, Dagostino told the crowd.

Next, a majority of buyers, representing at least $100-million in sales, would have to re-up with SimDag by extending their contracts two years.

Dagostino sweetened the deal with three concessions to keep buyers on board until the $300-million skyscraper could rise on 111 S Ashley Drive by December 2010.

"They're giving us interest on our deposits. They're giving us an allowance to be spent on the upgrades to the units. They're giving us a guarantee they're not going to undercut us and sell unsold units for less than we paid for them," Wallace said.

SimDag officials refused most contact with the press, leaving details of the meeting to seep out from buyers.

Wallace said developers brought a middleman to represent the hedge fund and repeatedly declined to identify the source of the private money to build the tower.

"The main thing that emerged from the meeting was less skepticism," Wallace said. "I do feel confident they do have a financing commitment from a real firm."

James Thorner can be reached at or (813) 226-3313.

[Last modified October 25, 2007, 22:54:25]

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