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Best of Howard Stutz

Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

Gimme a t, gimme an r...

25 July 2007

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- New York developer Donald Trump has seen his name affixed to skyscrapers and buildings in some 50 cities in the United States and abroad.

However, the billionaire real estate magnate got a little sentimental knowing his name was finally going to fly above the Strip.

The $1.2 billion Trump International Hotel & Tower reached a construction milestone Tuesday when a 20-foot-tall T was lifted 640-feet by a crane and attached to the top of the building. By the end of the week, it's expected the R, U, M, and P should take their places at the top of the south side of the tower, covering about 140 feet.

Five more letters spelling out TRUMP are scheduled to go up on the north side of tower next week while the east and west sides of tower will receive large Ts.

For Trump, the signs complete a nearly two-decade-long quest to affix his name to the famous boulevard.

"I've always wanted to be in Las Vegas," Trump said in a phone interview Monday from his New York offices. "I made a choice a few years ago to conquer New York. I want to be just as successful in Las Vegas."

The first T was supposed to be lifted into place Monday, but weather and construction issues pushed the process back one day.

The 64-story Trump International has sold out its 2,562 condominium hotel units. The tower, on seven acres behind the now shuttered New Frontier and across from the Fashion Show mall, is the tallest residential building in Las Vegas and is expected to open early next year. Trump attended the project's topping-off ceremony in April and announced plans for an identical second tower.

"I've got 73 different projects all over the world, but Las Vegas has been a place that has been important for me," Trump said. "It's been a phenomenal success story what has happened in this city and I've wanted to be a part of it."

That includes having the Trump name in lights above the Strip.

"I can't wait to see it," Trump said.

The development received an additional boost when Trump's partner, Phil Ruffin, sold the adjacent New Frontier and its 37 acres for $1.2 billion to Elad Group of New York. The New Frontier closed July 16 and is scheduled to be demolished sometime this fall. Elad plans to spend $5 billion to build a version of the Plaza Hotel on the site.

"You know they are going to build something that's going to add tremendously to the value of this project," Trump said.

Jack Christie, vice president of sales for Trump International, said more than 500 reservations have been accepted for units in the second tower. Construction on that building won't begin until the first tower opens.