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Robert Trigaux

Florida investment group buys downtown site of what would have been Trump Tower Tampa





Wake up and good morning
. Downtown Tampa's scrappy but valuable patch of land by the Hillsborough River that was to be Trump Tower Tampa has a new owner. According to the Wall Street JournalFlorida real-estate developer Robert Owens purchased the site of the failed waterfront condominium project that had cut a branding deal with Donald Trump. Owens said a partnership he is leading paid $5 million for the former Trump site and the adjacent CapTrust six-story office building. He said he plans to build a mixed-use complex with retail, offices and a hotel or condominiums there.

For the record, that's 111 S. Ashley Drive. Owens' group is called Brownstone Tampa Partners, LLC. The group calls the old Trump site the "only undeveloped parcel in the downtown core located on the Hillsborough River." Brownstone Tampa Partners is an investment partnership of O,R&L Facility Services, Owens Realty Network and Community Reinvestment Partners II, LP, a joint venture investment fund of Forge Capital Partners, LLC and DeBartolo Development, LLC (that's Tampa's Eddie DeBartolo).

Owens told the Journal that the vacant lot alone worth $10 million before the Trump project tanked. "I think it's important that we put a new face and identity on the building because it went through some challenges that we're looking to move forward from," he said.

Owens is a top executive with O,R&L, a real estate investment and management firm. The photo above (courtesy of O,R&L) shows the vacant lot by the Hillsborough River with the 6-story CapTrust building. 

Trump was not the developer of the planned 52-story Tampa project. He licensed his name to local developer Simdag/Robel LLC. Trump did a number of these types of deals in the years leading up the economic downturn, earning large fees. Most turned out well. But a few proved to be a headache for Trump after the market soured. Simdag/Robel sought bankruptcy protection in 2008. Dozens of condo buyers sued the developer seeking the return of their 20-percent deposits. Some sued Trump, alleging he misled them into thinking he was one of the condo tower's builders.

Read the complete Wall Street Journal story here.

Is that the end of the story of Trump in Tampa? Hardly. Trump's still being sued by folks who put down deposits on his proposed tower and have not gotten reimbursed. Still, it's good news to see Tampa's commercial real estate market, in this land sale, finally starting to move forward.

-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, St. Petersburg Times


[Last modified: Wednesday, June 22, 2011 9:47am]


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