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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Trump high-rise draws 1,500 potential buyers

By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer

The Trump International Hotel and Tower Waikiki Beach Walk project in its demolition phase in September. Construction begins in December.

JOAQUIN SIOPACK | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Donald Trump's planned 462-unit luxury Waikiki hotel-condominium has attracted 1,500 prospective buyers, a sign that Hawai'i's cooling real estate market can still generate heat in certain segments.

Among the interested buyers are celebrities, Japanese investors and kama'aina, said Corinne Huntress, sales director for the Trump International Hotel and Tower Waikiki Beach Walk.

Trump was in Japan earlier this week to thank investors there for their interest in the project.

The estimated $400 million tower by the flamboyant New York developer and star of the reality TV show "The Apprentice" is one of the most ambitious high-rise projects in the state.

"The word's gotten out people are taking a look at it," said local condotel expert F. Kevin Aucello, who isn't affiliated with the Trump project but has received calls from as far away as Japan and Korea asking for an assessment.

"I haven't gotten calls like that for another Hawai'i condotel project before," said Aucello, executive vice president with CB Richard Ellis Hawaii Inc. "It has drawn a lot of interest via (Trump's) name. His name does have a lot of pull."

Estimated unit prices start at $445,000 for 355-square-foot furnished studios that come with owner dues of $336 a month. Prices top out at $4.5 million for 2,050-square-foot three-bedroom units with monthly owner dues of $1,940.

Huntress said much of the demand is the lower floor studio units where prices range from $445,000 to about $1.1 million. That could leave available units especially on higher floors where one- to three-bedroom units range from $1.7 million to $4.5 million.

Developers of the Trump project began accepting reservations on Sept. 25, and will allow prospective buyers the opportunity to sign binding sales contracts at a Nov. 9 unit selection event in an order largely determined by when they made reservations. Potential buyers had to put down $20,000 to make a reservation.

About 35 percent of the project, or roughly 160 units, was reserved exclusively by prospective buyers in Japan.

"Japan's economy is coming back," Huntress said. "Things are booming there. The Japanese are out in full force looking to move their money around the world."

Some 350 to 400 reservations are from Hawai'i residents, and a relatively large response has come from South Korea and Australia, she said.

Other buyers include principals of the development team who are taking all five penthouse units, and other people affiliated with the project who have reserved 20 or so units.

It remains to be seen how long the Trump project will take to sell out.

Each reservation holder could buy up to two units, but can opt not to buy a unit and still receive a full refund on the $20,000 deposit.

Huntress said if the project sells 80 percent, or about 370 of its 462 units, on Nov. 9, the developers will be ecstatic.

"I think we're going to do very well at the end of the day here," she said. "This is the hottest project to hit O'ahu in years."

The Trump project is a development partnership between Trump and Irongate Capital of Beverly Hills, Calif. Canadian firm S&P Destination Properties is handling sales and marketing.

In Japan, the developer arranged for a private investment group to sell about 160 units to Japanese investors, according to Huntress.

"They snatched it up so quickly that this group came back to the developer and wanted more," she said.

Jackson Nakasone, president and chief executive of local commercial real estate firm Grubb & Ellis/CBI, said the strategy targeting Japan is smart. "The Japanese market is one of the most loyal to the Hawai'i market," he said.

Irongate principal Adam Fisher said he has been pleased by the response.

"We think people are reacting to a unique project," he said. "It is the only five-star residential building so close to the water on Waikiki beach."

Construction of the 38-story tower is scheduled to start in December and be completed in mid-2009.


Correction: The map was incorrect in a previous version of this story.

Reach Andrew Gomes at agomes@honoluluadvertiser.com.