Friday, Nov. 5, 2004

Trump Dollars 

Donald Trump Invests Own Money in Sunny Isles Projects, Local Developer Says 

The partnership discussions were initiated a few years ago when Dezer learned that Trump was in the Miami area looking for development opportunities.

 By Randy Abraham
Contributing Writer

Trump Dezer Development hopes to break ground by year’s end on its 55-story twin, 391-unit Trump Royale.

The announcement comes soon after the development company recently topped off on the Trump Palace, a 278-unit luxury condominium tower on Collins Avenue and 180th Street.

Two years ago, someone decided to invest in the three-tower Trump Grande Ocean Resort and Residence complex, a three-tower condo and hotel complex: Donald Trump.

New York’s “The Donald” inked a deal with Dezer Development that made him an equity partner in the project, the first tower of which, the Trump International Sonesta Beach Resort condo-hotel, was completed in 2003, said Gil Dezer, president of the development firm.

The partnership had its roots in talks that began in 2001, said Dezer. The first phase of the agreement was basically a licensing agreement by which Trump lent his name to the project and received financial compensation in return. But now, however, Trump has a financial stake in the project.

“It was discussed from the beginning,” Dezer said. “We first discussed it in 2001, and then the events of September 11 occurred. But the outlook is looking better and we’re going full steam ahead. In sales we weathered the recession and the uncertainty following the September 11 attacks, and we’re seeing an overwhelming response.”

Pricing for the Trump Palace ranges from $600,000 to $11 million, said Trump Dezer spokeswoman Mandy Weightman. In addition, penthouses units, which can range to up to an entire floor, are available at prices reaching $25 million. Occupancy for the Palace is expected in the first half of 2005, and the Trump Royale is expected to be completed in 2007. The residential projects are about 85 percent sold out, Weightman said. Among the buyers are former Dolphin Ricky Williams, New York Yankee Tino Martinez, and Florida Panther Vladimir Malachov, she said.

The condo-hotel includes 22,000 square feet of meeting space and 15,000 square feet of lobby level retail space. Condo-hotel units have luxury appointments and feature restaurants, a gym, spa, maid service and other hotel amenities. Owners can rent out their units during times they are away, and the Sonesta hotel management firm handles the details.

Although the residential towers will be a traditional condominium, unit owners will be able to avail themselves of the hotel services provided in the condo-hotel, said Dezer.

Dezer credits Trump’s role in the success of the project. “He’s been a huge factor, not just his name, but his personal involvement in the project. With his input, we improved on the plans, followed his lead on sales and marketing of the project, and we’ve taken it to another level.”

Trump recommended enhanced security amenities and taller ceilings at the project to make it more appealing to prospective buyers. The towers will be the tallest resorts in the area. “We Trump-sized it,” noted Dezer.

The partnership discussions were initiated a few years ago when Dezer learned that Trump was in the Miami area looking for development opportunities. Dezer approached him, and initial talks led to the partnership.

Dezer, along with his father, Michael, the founder and CEO of Dezer Development, have extensive holdings in the city which include 45 acres of prime oceanfront property stretching from 195th to 158th Street on Collins Avenue. The three-tower hotel-condo complex itself is on an 11-acre parcel at 180th Street and Collins Avenue with a commanding 1,000 feet of ocean frontage, said Dezer.

Trump Towers, the Dezers’ next partnership with Trump, will also include The Related Group of Florida and feature three 45-story condo towers at 158th Street and Collins Avenue. This summer, city leaders approved a request by Dezer Properties for a temporary sales trailer at 15800 Collins Avenue, across the street from the construction site on the east side of Collins Avenue between 158th and 159th Streets. Dezer said that his firm plans to donate the entire .75-acre sales trailer parcel to the city in exchange for transferable development rights after their project is sold out. 

Since 1997 Dezer has purchased hotels including the Thunderbird, Monaco, Driftwood and Golden Nugget. Dezer said he purchased the hotels for redevelopment, but claims the buildings have a year-round occupancy rate of 90 percent. He is continuing to acquire land, and said that he has been in discussions with Trump about additional projects they may develop jointly. “He’s been very receptive; he likes the market and is impressed with what’s going on here,” said Dezer.

Like other developers active in the city, Dezer likes what he sees. "Sunny Isles Beach is a new city located in one of the best beachfront locations. It is masterly planned, and has tremendous potential," said Dezer, who also owns Dezerland Hotel in Miami Beach and properties in New York.

Dezer said that doing business with Trump has been rewarding. “We’ve had no problems whatsoever; it’s a very happy arrangement. He’s a brilliant businessman, and we’re working very well together.”