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Slump stalls Tampa's tallest condo tower

TAMPA — Felix Amon dreamed of building taller than Trump, but now finds himself hammered by the slump.

Poor sales and tighter credit have forced Amon, based in Daytona Beach, to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for his Tampa Tower 2 project.

The 608-foot, 51-story condo skyscraper would have reached higher than any building in the region. Tapered at its top and crowned by an antenna, the $350-million tower would have resembled a stumpier version of the Empire State Building.

Amon bought the downtown lot at Washington and Morgan streets two years ago and had fallen behind in repaying $7.4-million to TransAtlantic Bank. The Miami lender had initiated foreclosure proceedings, and Amon plans to use bankruptcy reorganization to block the bank from seizing the property.

"We'll definitely keep the project and keep moving forward. We just want to freeze the process to protect our asset," the Austrian-born Amon told the St. Petersburg Times Tuesday.

Amon's is the third Tampa condo project to declare bankruptcy this year. The Towers of Channelside and the Place at Channelside filed for Chapter 11 in January and February, respectively. Both were largely completed but were hit hard when buyers bailed from contracts.

Even the best-known local condo project, Trump Tower Tampa, has threatened bankruptcy should its financing efforts fail. The 52-story building, licensing its name from New York tycoon Donald Trump, has yet to get off the ground,

"Just remember what's happened to Trump Tower, and all the other projects," Amon said. "All the buyers ran for the hills."

Amon said the bankruptcy filing doesn't apply to another of his local condo buildings, Clearwater's Station Square. The downtown redevelopment project on Cleveland Street offers 126 units and a rooftop pool. "Station Square is just about finished," he said. "Luckily that was sold before the crisis started."

James Thorner can be reached at thorner@sptimes.com or

(813) 226-3313.

Slump stalls Tampa's tallest condo tower 03/25/08 [Last modified: Friday, March 28, 2008 1:23pm]
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