The Real Deal Los Angeles

Debate prep: Donald Trump’s real estate failures in LA

Despite multiple bids spanning decades, he has yet to own a significant piece of the region
October 19, 2016 04:30PM

Donald Trump Jr., Donald Trump, Melania Trump and Barron Trump (Credit: Getty/M. Tran/FilmMagic)

Donald Trump Jr., Donald Trump, Melania Trump and Barron Trump (Credit: Getty/M. Tran/FilmMagic)

Before Donald Trump blundered his way through a presidential campaign, he was blundering his way through Southern California real estate.

The magnate and now Republican candidate for president has failed to bring at least seven projects he sought to build in the region to fruition, according to a Los Angeles Times report. The biggest: a bid for the former Ambassador Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard, where he claimed he would build the tallest building in the world.

When the formerly decadent hotel shut down in 1989, Trump spared no time in making a play for the 23.5-acre lot. He said he’d make an offer of $64 million and then pour another $1 billion into a world-record skyscraper with 125 stories and a mix of apartments, condos, a hotel, offices and retail space.

But it was all for naught. First, civic forces rose up to oppose the project, including preservationists and then-Mayor Tom Bradley. Then the L.A. Unified School District claimed the site in 1990 through eminent domain. Trump walked away from the project nearly a decade of litigation later — but not without a few crass analogies.

The businessman said the school district had taken the land “as viciously as in Nazi Germany” in a 1997 deposition, according to the Times.

Then, of course, there’s Trump’s ailing golf course in Palos Verdes Estates. When its previous owners slid into bankruptcy — literally — when the 18th hole collapsed in a landslide, Trump swooped in with $300 million to acquire and renovate the course. It reopened in 2005. But the golf course is facing some financial woes in recent years. Despite Trump’s own glowing revenue reports, his tax attorney has claimed recently that the course is worth just $10 million, according to the Times.

Trump’s other failed biddings include a 2003 proposal for a Downtown mixed-use project on Grand Avenue — which he lost to a team that recruited Frank Gehry — and a 2006 auction battle for an empty lot at 10000 Santa Monica Boulevard between Century City and Beverly Hills.

He also walked away from purchasing TV host Ed McMahon’s mansion in Beverly Hills in 2008, in the midst of the housing crisis.

At the bitter end of his conquest for the Ambassador Hotel, the developer had an ominous — or perhaps promising — note for L.A.:

“I look forward to coming back to Los Angeles someday to develop another property in the Trump style and manner,” he said in a statement in 1998. [LAT] — Cathaleen Chen