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Howard Stutz
 

Strip Development: Trump Adding Tower

4 January 2005

With more than 80 percent of the condominium units in his planned Trump International already reserved, developer Donald Trump said Monday he and New Frontier owner Phil Ruffin will build a second 64-story tower behind the Strip resort across from the Fashion Show mall.

The addition of a second Trump high-rise to the 41-acre Frontier site comes as Ruffin said he would divest from his real estate holdings in the Bahamas and use the proceeds to redevelop the 986-room hotel-casino portion of the parcel without a partner.

Ruffin said he hopes to begin reshaping the site in 2006 into a 3,000-room resort-casino.

Trump said groundbreaking for the first $300 million tower had been pushed up to April because almost 1,000 of the building's 1,282 units had been reserved by buyers who paid between $10,000 and $20,000 in refundable costs. He didn't say when sales would begin for the second tower, which will also have 1,282 rooms and cost $300 million.

Units in the Trump International range from 600 square feet for a studio to 3,000 square feet for a three-bedroom with prices of $500,000 to more than $1 million.

"Sales have been phenomenal because people like the product we're offering," Trump said by phone from his home in Florida. "With sales going so well, we're moving ahead with plans to build an exact twin to our first tower. It will be just as spectacular as the first building."

He said that units in Trump International are valued between $1,000 and $1,200 per square foot, which he said is the most expensive residential real estate in Las Vegas.

"I get the highest prices in New York and I'll get the highest prices in Chicago," said Trump, who is also building another high rise in Chicago.

Trump said the second tower would use another three acres, giving him a total of six acres for the Trump International, which also includes a hotel element, leaving Ruffin about 35 acres in which to redevelop the New Frontier.

"Phil has become a good friend and I think he's going to do a marvelous job on the Frontier site," Trump said. "It's a tremendous location."

The Trump International, which is modeled after one of his New York high-rises, was given prominent play during the season finale of NBC's "The Apprentice," when it was one of two job choices Trump offered to the winning contestant. The property was given two minutes of prime-time exposure, including an animated sequence that depicted the 645-foot tower rising out of the ground.

Since he purchased the New Frontier for $167 million seven years ago, Ruffin had explored numerous redevelopment options with different potential business partners and various themes, including San Francisco and London.

July's announcement that Trump and Ruffin would enter a 50-50 venture for the high-rise was the first tangible event in his quest to redevelop the site.

Ruffin said Monday he would sell two hotels and an island in the Bahamas he has owned for the past 11 years to finance the Frontier project without a partner.

"We've danced with a lot of different people, but I'd much rather do this without a partner," Ruffin said. "Adding a second Trump tower just increases the value of the land. Development on the Strip is heading north and the New Frontier is in a great location."

With the planned April opening of the $2.5 billion Wynn Las Vegas directly across the Strip and development of the $1.6 billion Palazzo next to The Venetian, land valuations have skyrocketed. Some gaming analysts said Strip land could be worth between $15 million and $20 million a square foot.

"The north end of the Strip is going to be the next wave of development over the next five to six years," said Brian Gordon of Applied Analysis, citing the Stardust's 63 acres, the Riviera's potential and additional high-rise construction. "The lack of available land is driving up prices and we're going to see a tremendous transformation along the north end."

Ruffin said he's exploring several options for the Frontier's next phase, but he didn't have a theme in mind.

"I'm not really sure if it needs a theme," Ruffin said. "It's in a great location and the timing is right."