News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Douglas Hanks III, The Miami Herald
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Dec. 11, 2003 -- Donald Trump has signed on to build a hotel and condominium tower near the Fort Lauderdale oceanfront, people familiar with the deal said Wednesday.
The celebrity developer's team will take over the fledgling Club Regent time-share project that is under way off Highway A1A in Fort Lauderdale and relaunch it as the Trump International Beach Club, the sources said.
The project, at 550 Seabreeze Blvd., is the latest high-end hotel announced for Fort Lauderdale's oceanfront, a sleepy stretch of sand compared to developer meccas to the south, like Sunny Isles Beach and South Beach.
"Fort Lauderdale has moved into everybody's cross hairs," said Mark Ellert, president of the Aztec Leisure Group in Dania Beach, noting that W hotels, St. Regis and the Atlantic -- an Aztec project -- are planning luxury hotels on Fort Lauderdale's seafront.
Trump, based in New York, has made and lost vast fortunes as a real estate developer and casino operator. He's leveraged his business escapades and considerable ego into celebrity status that has spawned an upcoming NBC reality show, a bestselling book, brief flirtation with a presidential run and tabloid fascination with his love life. He claims -- and some real estate analysts agree -- that his name alone can instantly boost the value of a project by 20 percent or more.
Trump plans to launch construction quickly at the Beach Club, rather than follow the traditional and safer course of selling at least half of the units before going vertical, said Philip Spiegelman, whose company, International Sales Group in Aventura, was hired to sell the Beach Club's condominiums. The building would serve as a hotel, with at least some of the rooms available for sale as condominiums, he said.
The site, now just a foundation, was being developed by MJQ Development, and Trump's group is close to purchasing the property, Spiegelman said. An MJQ official declined to comment Wednesday afternoon, and it is unclear whether the company would remain as a partner in the Beach Club venture.
The 14-story building will be Trump's second project south of Palm Beach County. In 2001, he licensed his name to a hotel and condominium complex in Sunny Isles Beach and later joined developers Michael and Gil Dezer as an investor in the project.
But Spiegelman believes Trump plans a much more central role in the Fort Lauderdale project since he would be the chief developer, not a hired gun.
"This will be a Donald J. Trump signature property. He will be in absolute management control," said Spiegelman, president of ISG.
Another company, Bay Rock Group, of New York City, is also involved in the venture, people familiar with the project said. Spiegelman declined to disclose the financial details of the deal or say whether Trump was actually investing any money in the project.
Officials at Trump's New York office could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.
Spiegelman said that the Beach Club was likely to be the first of a series of projects Trump hopes to announce in South Florida and that the developer was in talks to buy other parcels.
"I'm also led to believe they have other properties under contract and this will be the first of many," he said.
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(c) 2003, The Miami Herald. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. GE,