|By Doreen Hemlock, Sun Sentinel, Fort
Lauderdale, Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Nov. 03, 2010--Real estate mogul Donald J. Trump said he's no longer affiliated with the unfinished luxury condo-hotel tower on Fort Lauderdale beach that was to carry his name and now faces foreclosure.
"We have nothing to do with the building. We had a licensing deal, and we terminated the licensing deal a long time ago," Trump told the SunSentinel on Tuesday. "We're not involved with the foreclosure."
The news comes seven months after the new loan holder filed to foreclose on what was to be the Trump International Hotel & Tower, a $200 million project that was supposed to bring cachet to Fort Lauderdale and was touted among the area's most glamorous addresses.
More than 100 people plunked down 20 percent deposits to buy condos in the luxury Trump tower, with studios and one- and two-bedroom units priced from about $500,000 to more than $3 million each.
Now, most of those buyers are suing, trying to get their deposits back or place liens on the never completed building. Many charge that developers misrepresented Trump's involvement. Their lawyers claim promotional materials suggested Trump was a partner, not only licensing his name.
It's been seven months since the loan holder filed to gain rights to the building, and it likely will take at least six months more for the case to conclude, lawyers said.
The process is complicated for two key reasons: More than 80 parties are named in the caset, and Broward County courts are backlogged with foreclosure lawsuits.
Lawyers had to contact more than 100 people who put deposits on condo units before the dates for foreclosure hearings could be set. Some buyers live outside Florida. Some live outside the United States. A few could not be found, requiring public notice. That whole process took more than three months, said David Trench of Miami-based Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod, who represents the group that now holds the loan on the property.
Broward County's court system is backlogged in handling foreclosures, further delaying the process. A court hearing set for Nov. 2 to determine a schedule in the foreclosure case was reset for Dec. 1, because the judge was busy in a separate matter, lawyers said.
In addition, the case is messy, because the group holding the loan has changed. The bank that made the initial $139 million building loan, CorusBankshares of Chicago, failed last year. Federal authorities sold its assets to a new group, which distinguishes itself from the failed bank and from its practices
At issue is a $200 million luxury condo-hotel tower that was supposed to carry the name of real estate mogul Donald Trump and bring cachet to Broward County.
Developers SB Associates took out a $139 million loan to build the project and signed up to carry the name of real estate tycoon Donald Trump.
But the real estate market soured after that. The bank funding the project failed last December. A group led by Starwood Capital bought 40 percent of its $4.5 billion portfolio, including the loan on the Fort Lauderdale venture. Developers then defaulted on payments, and the new loan holder filed for foreclosure March 11 in Broward County Circuit Court.
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