Republicans desperately trying to stop Donald Trump from winning the presidential nomination plan a barrage of TV ads against the real-estate mogul in Florida. One of them includes a reference to the developer of Trump International Hotel & Tower Fort Lauderdale, a massive project that collapsed after Trump withdrew his name from the building.
"Donald Trump's business associates: a felon promoted to senior adviser after a stock fraud conviction," the ad by American Future Fund says about Felix Sater. Sater was part of Bayrock Group LLC, a developer of the Fort Lauderdale tower.
Here's what the Miami Herald's Michael Sallah wrote about the failed project in 2012:
For Donald Trump, it was a stunning landmark of the 21st century: a luxury high-rise shaped like an ocean liner and bearing his name that would turn Fort Lauderdale Beach into an international draw.
In splashy brochures, Trump beckoned investors to buy into a resort that would represent “the finest and most luxurious experience I have created.”
Now, with the hulking, empty tower casting a shadow over one of Florida’s most popular beachfronts, investors are demanding details of the massive project’s collapse and debts of $185 million.
In a heated court battle, investors want the financial records of the developers to determine why the $200 million hotel and condo project broke deadlines, failed to open, and ended ingloriously in a public sale.
“Utterly shocking,” said Joe Altschul, an attorney for 75 buyers who plunked down millions on the project that was auctioned last week at the Broward courthouse. “They created great expectations to the purchasers and the public. These people are angry.”
Developers say they were caught in the worst real-estate disaster in generations — plunging condo sales and property values — and nothing could have saved one of Florida's most high-profile venues.
“The market wiped us out,” said Julius Schwarz, a member of Bayrock Group LLC, a developer in the project. “We did as well as anyone could have done on this project.”
But investors say Trump International Hotel & Tower was plagued by problems far more serious than the slumping economy: Trump stripped his name off the 298-room project just months before it was to open, stinging buyers who put down millions because of the name.