Trump Deja Vu? After Tampa condo debacle, trouble for The Donald brand in South Florida deal
Wake up and good morning. Remember "The Donald" -- Donald Trump -- and his big plan to plaster his name in downtown Tampa on what would be Trump Tower Tampa, the tallest condo building on the west coast of Florida? (The rendering above of the Tampa skyline shows what the Trump Tower Tampa, on the left, would have looked like if it had been built.)
Of course you remember because that condo project never happened and has been a tale of blunder, pratfalls, finger pointing, lawsuits, bluster and plenty of unhappy folks who made 20 percent down payments on what was Trump said, in a 2005 whirlwind stopover in Tampa, would be West Florida's highest condo and its 193 units the most luxurious in the region. Even the city of Tampa got bruised, left with a patch of dirt along its downtown Hillsborough River location at 111 S. Ashley Drive with no development prospects for the site after years of recession. (Photo, right: the fenced site of Trump Tower Tampa in its early days before work stopped on the project. By Stefanie Boyar, St. Petersburg Times.)
Trump, of course, had (and still has) grand plans to build up the Trump brand name to plaster, for a tidy fee, on luxury condos and other commercial properties across the country and worldwide. And he's done that, sort of, with condo projects in many major U.S. cities, though not without lots of complaints and lawsuits.
The Trump overreach is not over in Florida, apparently. You'd think Florida would be prime territory for Trump's name given the state's excess of older wealthy people looking to bask in a Trump-adorned environment, not to mention the high profile of Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club near Palm Beach.
But now comes the South Florida Sun Sentinel story today that says Trump claims he's no longer affiliated with the unfinished luxury condo-hotel tower on Fort Lauderdale beach that was to carry his name and now faces foreclosure. "We have nothing to do with the building. We had a licensing deal, and we terminated the licensing deal a long time ago," Trump told the Sun Sentinel in what must seems an eerily moment of deja vu for Tampa Bay readers. "We're not involved with the foreclosure."
Want proof? Try going to the official web site of the Fort Lauderdale tower: www.trumpfortlauderdalehotel.com. Good luck. But here's more information about the tower if you're in the mood.
The statement, the Sun Sentinel says, comes nearly eight months after the new loan holder filed to foreclose on what was to be the Trump International Hotel & Tower, a $200 million project that was supposed to bring cachet to Fort Lauderdale as one of the area's most glamorous addresses.
According to the newspaper: "Now, most of those buyers are suing, trying to get their deposits back or place liens on the 298-unit project that was to be finished by 2009. Many buyers charge that developers misrepresented Trump's involvement. Some suits name Trump personally and charge deceptive advertising. They point to promotional literature that states 'Trump is committed to personal and direct involvement in everything his name represents' and describe the project as a 'signature' Trump development."
Here's the complete Sun Sentinel story.
I think we know where this tale's going. It's familiar territory.
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist