Thursday, May 31, 2007

Latest on Trump Tower in Tampa

There will be no Trump Tower in Tampa.

Real estate mogul Donald Trump has pulled out of the $300 million, 52-story Trump Tower condominium project in Tampa, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court.Trump said in the lawsuit that developer SimDag owes him more than $1 million in unpaid licensing fees.

Trump also said SimDag failed to show it had sold enough condos, valued between $700,000 and $6.2 million, to meet contractual obligations to him. Trump was entitled to half the profits of the sale of 190 condos and a licensing fee of $2.8 million.

Trump has ordered the developers to immediately stop using his name on the project.Mirabilis Ventures Inc., an Orlando private equity firm, made an attempt to buy into the project last year, but it's unclear whether the company ever closed on the transaction.

Mirabilis is facing a host of lawsuits in a number of states for other investments. Thomas Long, a Tampa lawyer representing clients who sued SimDag and Mirabilis to try to get their Trump Tower deposits refunded, said Wednesday he's still not sure if Mirabilis completed the acquisition.

"I think they were looking to flip it, but I'm pretty sure they did not get in," Long saidOther companies have been distancing themselves from the project. Eric Fordin, a project director with the Related Group, a Miami developer that considered taking over the project, said Wednesday that "we're not involved in the deal in any way."

Fordin said he was launching a due diligence review for Related Group when "all these lawsuits started piling up" against Trump Tower and SimDag, and the Related Group never entered into any agreements for acquisition or control.

The project, billed in January 2005 as one of the tallest and grandest towers on the Gulf of Mexico, has been burdened by financial setbacks, legal troubles and the slump in the housing market. Construction stalled in November and the lot is now empty.

The phone at SimDag's Clearwater corporate office was listed as disconnected Wednesday. Phone messages left at the company's Sea Isle City, N.J., office and with a spokesman in Tampa were not returned. Courtesy of Orlando Sentinel.