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Jennifer Robison

The Donald's Ex-Wife Plans Ivana Las Vegas Condominiums

13 July 2005

As Donald Trump was breaking ground at Trump International Hotel & Tower on Wednesday morning, officials representing a different Trump project were preparing an afternoon educational sales meeting for real estate brokers and agents.

Trump's ex-wife, Ivana Trump, has lent her name to Ivana Las Vegas, a condominium tower at the Strip and Sahara Avenue. In addition to branding the project, Ivana Trump will assist in designing interiors.

The battle between the exes was a topic of conversation at the Wednesday sales meeting.

"It's ironic that Trump (International) broke ground today as well," said Rebecca Berney, a Realtor with Century 21 Aadvantage Gold. "The dynamics between Trump and Trump are very interesting."

Berney said she wasn't sure which Trump scheduled first, but "someone planned it this way."

Luke Chadwick, director of sales at Ivana Las Vegas, said the scheduling was "a coincidence." He noted that he e-mailed details on the informational meeting about three weeks ago, and said he learned of Trump International's groundbreaking about four days ago.

Regardless of the reason, interest in Ivana Las Vegas was high. Chadwick said about 1,500 agents attended the event -- 500 more than he expected.

"I've done hundreds of projects, and I've never seen this level of interest before," Chadwick said.

The 923-foot Ivana Las Vegas will have 943 units ranging from 500 square feet to 1,900 square feet. Prices begin at about $800,000 and go up to $1.7 million. On-site amenities will include an ultra lounge, a spa, restaurants and a gym.

Reviews of Wednesday's sales event were mixed, with agents complaining about the lack of parking at Bellagio and poor sound quality in the ballroom.

Carlos Molina, a broker with Coldwell Banker Wardley Real Estate in Las Vegas, said he came to the meeting out of curiosity, to learn more about high-rise projects in Las Vegas.

But he said the presentation didn't leave much of an impression.

"The multimedia services were not good and the sound was poor," Molina said. "But it's going to be a nice project."

Katherine Butsinas, also of Coldwell Banker Wardley, agreed that the informational session lacked pizzazz, but said she would contact some of her clients to gauge their interest in Ivana Las Vegas.

"I'm not going to go advertise it, though," said Butsinas, who also sells homes at Turnberry Place on Paradise Road. "There are 30 other high-rise projects in town. I'm not going to focus on just one."

Some industry experts -- including Ivana Trump's ex-husband -- have questioned the likelihood of Ivana Las Vegas finding construction financing. In an interview last week with the Review-Journal, Donald Trump questioned the tower's location. Other skeptics point to Ivana Trump's experiences in real estate, which include lending her name to a Miami project whose developers filed for bankruptcy in 2004.

But brokers at Tuesday's event predicted the tower will come out of the ground.

"I believe it will happen," said one broker who declined to give his name. "It's not Donald, but it's the Trump name."

Jessica Berney, a Realtor with Century 21 Aadvantage Gold in Las Vegas, said: "Ivana Trump is a huge public figure. She wouldn't put her name on something that wasn't quality or that wouldn't make it."

Berney, who has partnered with her mother, Rebecca Berney, to sell luxury homes and high-rises in Southern Nevada, said she expects to sell 20 to 30 units at Ivana Las Vegas. Berney said she plans to market the project heavily through her Web site.

The next step in bringing Ivana Las Vegas to life is the official sales launch on Aug. 14 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, which Ivana Trump will attend. Agents can begin lining up at 4 a.m.; breakfast will be served at 4:30, and the doors open at 7. Ivana Las Vegas is even providing line placeholders at a cost of $5 for 15-minute intervals.

Chadwick made a bold forecast for the event: "A billion dollars in gross sales in one day." He said he knew of at least a dozen agents at the informational meeting who could sell 20 units each.

Liberty Realty's Mercado said she'd be in line bright and early if she has clients who want to buy into Ivana Las Vegas.

Other brokers aren't so sure they'll attend the event.

Asked if he'll be in line, at 4 a.m., Molina laughed.

"I will be sleeping," he said.