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Trump Tower developers offer new plan to pay off some debt

After a three-year struggle that left them bankrupt and nearly $40-million in debt, the developers of Trump Tower Tampa still aren't ready to wave the white flag.

At a creditors' hearing in downtown Tampa on Friday, Frank Dagostino, head of tower developer SimDag, proposed partnering with an undisclosed cash-rich investor to resurrect the tower as a condo-hotel project.

The partner would help void some of Trump Tower Tampa's debts to contractors, lenders and depositors, Dagostino said. Those still left unpaid could be compensated by an ownership stake in the condo-hotel.

"This would be a new hotel style for Tampa," Dagostino told about 25 creditors or their representatives at the federal courthouse.

The deal remains a long shot. Despite a letter of intent from the joint venture partner, SimDag representatives said the purchase offer has been too low to take seriously.

"I caution everybody that this is by no means an agreement," said Jeffrey Warren, SimDag's bankruptcy attorney.

SimDag labored for three years to find financing for a $300-million skyscraper that, at 52 stories, would have been the tallest and most luxurious in West Florida. New York mogul Donald Trump licensed his name to the project in exchange for half the profits.

If the joint venture falls through, SimDag raised the possibility of auctioning off the riverfront lot at 111 S. Ashley Drive.

"If we have to do a fire sale, we won't be able to maximize the value," said Dagostino, who added that the hunt for financing has brought him into contact with all varieties of scams and con men.

James Thorner can be reached at thorner@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3313.

Trump Tower developers offer new plan to pay off some debt 07/18/08 [Last modified: Friday, July 18, 2008 11:27pm]
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