|By Douglas Hanks, The Miami
HeraldMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Feb. 28, 2012--The country's most famous real estate developer soon will be running South Florida's most famous golf course.
Donald Trump on Monday officially announced his company was paying $150 million to purchase the Doral golf resort out of bankruptcy, a high-profile deal sure to cause national buzz during next week's Cadillac World Golf Championship event there. Famous for its Blue Monster golf course, the Doral each year hosts the country's top professional golfers for a four-day tournament. Trump, an avid golfer, plans to be there this year.
As part of the deal Trump insisted Marriott exit as the Doral's longtime operator so that his company could run the property. He said he will spend another $150 million renovating the 692-room hotel and redoing the four golf courses there. His team sees the Doral as performing well below its potential, and a statement issued Monday by his New York office touched on the sub-par theme for the 1962 resort:
"When Doral first opened, it was considered the best resort in the world," Trump said. "The combination of the property's incredible location in the heart of Miami and our very significant investment in upgrading the resort will enable us to return Doral to its former glory if not surpass it. When completed, Doral will be the finest resort and golf club in the country."
Trump said he has hired Gil Hanse, a leading designer of golf courses, to remake the four courses that are part of the Doral complex. A fifth, the Great White course, designed by Greg Norman, was retained by the seller, a hedge fund out of New York, to be the centerpiece for a future real estate development.
Trump and Marriott did not respond to interview requests Monday afternoon.
A bankruptcy judge's ruling last week all but assured Trump would succeed in purchasing the Doral. Other suitors had until Monday to outbid Trump, and the end of business brought Trump's announcement that he was buying the storied property. No one else had emerged as a possible bidder, and last week a New York bankruptcy judge cleared the way for a settlement with Marriott over its early-termination fee.
The Doral has been in bankruptcy since early 2011 when the hedge fund that owns it, Paulson & Co., sought Chapter 11 as a way to fend off creditors. Paulson took control of the Doral when it acquired a chain of resorts across the country that another real estate fund had bought at the peak of the housing market.
Trump said his company will begin running the property by June, and will keep the Doral open through about 18 months of renovations. It will be the largest of Trump's hotels.
(c)2012 The Miami Herald
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