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Planned Riverwalk Place tower adding hotel, returning deposits

The tower on what the former Trump Tower site says it is in negotiations with a hotel company to bring a luxury hotel to the project and add hotel-branded condominiums.

TAMPA — The developer of the planned Riverwalk Place tower on Friday told prospective buyers that it is in negotiations to add a luxury boutique hotel and hotel-branded condominiums to a redesigned project.

The hotel was not identified, and a spokesman for the developer said no information was available Friday on whether all the units in the project would become hotel-branded condominiums or whether the tower’s proposed height of more than 50 stories, which would make it the tallest tower on Florida’s west coast, could be changed.

But Riverwalk Place will remain a condominium project, project spokesman Rich Mullins said in an email to the Tampa Bay Times. The changes do not entail selling the site to a hotel.

Earlier this week, Tampa developer Larry Feldman announced he was leaving the project for reasons he did not specify beyond alluding to “honest business disagreements.”

Feldman’s departure left Two Roads Development of West Palm Beach as the sole developer for Riverwalk Place. An equity participant in the project is GPB Capital, a New York City-based private equity firm that faces multiple lawsuits filed by investors and a former employee, as well as investigations by the FBI and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Related: Firm with Clearwater ties investigated by the feds. Lawsuits detail 'Ponzi scheme.'

While negotiations are underway, Two Roads is voluntarily returning deposits to buyers, but will keep their place on a reservation list at no cost to them. It also will offer them the first choice to buy into the redesigned project before it is marketed to the public.

“We are writing you with great appreciation for your continuing interest in the residences and certainly want to sustain that interest,” Two Roads managing partner Reid Boren said in a letter to reservation-holders. “Since additional planning and design for the branded hotel & residences will take some time, we want to be fair and honor the patience you have shown in staying in reservation.”

Plans for the hotel mark the latest change for the $350 million project, which at one point had been proposed to include offices along with condominiums.

Farther back, the project’s site on the Hillsborough River was targeted by a different local group that in 2005 announced plans for Trump Tower Tampa. Well before he ran for president, developers agreed to pay Trump $2 million plus a percentage of the condo sales to use his name in the project. The agreement also included a non-disclosure clause about the licensing arrangements for the use of Trump’s name.

The project died when the real estate bubble burst before the Great Recession, and some would-be buyers lost deposits of more than $250,000.

Related: Buyers still feel burned by Donald Trump after Tampa condo tower failure

Feldman bought the vacant project site at 102 E Whiting Street in 2015 for $12.05 million.