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Trump Tower Tampa developers file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Harried by creditors and lashed by lawsuits, the developers of Trump Tower Tampa have sought the haven of Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Though SimDag-Robel LLC has yet to give up on building the 52-story condo tower, the bankruptcy all but ensures the luxury skyscraper is a long shot.

Bankruptcy papers filed Tuesday mention debts of up to $50-million spread among more than 200 creditors. Among the biggest: Colonial Bank, which holds a $3.2-million mortgage on the building lot at 111 S Ashley Drive, and New York tycoon Donald Trump, owed more than $1-million in overdue licensing fees from SimDag.

SimDag bankruptcy attorney Jeffrey Warren said clients Jody Simon and Frank Dagostino will try to maximize the value of the lot for creditors. They include dozens of condo buyers who placed 20 percent deposits on units costing from $700,000 to $6-million.

"It could be a sale, it could be development of Trump Tower Tampa," Warren said. "The filing of the bankruptcy doesn't stop any of the other activities."

Chapter 11 was the crowning blow to three jarring years for Trump Tower Tampa. Trump formally launched the project in early 2005 when he rolled into Tampa with his new bride on his arm. A licensing deal with the New York real estate big shot would give the 190 units instant clout. In return, Trump would get half the profits.

But as SimDag pressed bankers and investors for a $200-million loan, the Florida condo market was collapsing. Construction deadlines passed, and buyers, many of them speculators keen on quick returns, began to drop off.

The partnership fractured in May 2007 when Trump, frustrated by unpaid licensing fees, sued SimDag. The parties are in mediation.

Tuesday's bankruptcy filing listed creditors with the 20 largest claims, but a more exhaustive list is due in about two weeks. SimDag has already refunded half of some buyers' deposits.

Trump Tower Tampa developers file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy 06/18/08 [Last modified: Monday, June 23, 2008 1:37pm]
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