The Real Deal Miami

Donald Trump talks South Florida

Q & A with the real estate titan
By Alexander Britell | January 24, 2011 05:18PM

He’s built a real estate empire, become a television personality and has
hinted (though he did so in 1999, too) that he may even run for
president in 2012. But in South Florida, Donald Trump is also a local.
He owns Palm Beach’s famous Mar-a-Lago club, where he spends plenty of
time each winter, and he’s the namesake of several of the area’s biggest
condo towers (and one that no longer has his name). He also recently
presided over a mortgage burning ceremony to celebrate paying off the
$210 million construction loan on Trump Royale in Sunny Isles Beach,
which was itself a reenactment of a similar mortgage burning in 1986
when he helped save a Georgia farmer’s home from foreclosure. The
Donald answered
The Real Deal’s
questions about his career in the region in typically grandiose fashion, including whether he’ll ever
make a play for a professional sports team like fellow mogul Stephen
Ross of Related.

What projects are you working on in South Florida right now?

The Mar-a-Lago Club is always a work of art in progress, to keep it in pristine condition as well as to update the amenities. The Trump International Golf Club is also always being refined, so those are two projects that keep me busy year round, as well as Trump Hollywood, Trump Towers, Trump Royale and others.

What upsides do you see to South Florida real estate?

The location is terrific. That’s a big plus right there.

How does South Florida’s market compare to New York’s at this point?

Both markets are stable and both are prime locations. Desirable areas retain their cachet which is true of both Florida and New York.

Whom do you consider your competition in South Florida?

I can’t think of anyone who would be my competition.

What do you consider your biggest South Florida success?

Mar-a-Lago has been an incredible property. The Mar-a-Lago Club is the most beautiful in the world, and the location and history add to its allure.

Talk about the mortgage burning at The Trump Royale and that project’s success.

That’s been a wonderful success for everyone. The mortgage burning was celebratory and I think we’re all proud of a very beautiful building.

How much time do you spend at Mar-a-Lago?

I spend Thanksgiving through Easter at Mar-a-Lago on the weekends, and for the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Sometimes I’ll go down for special events as well, but that’s the typical season.

Where’s your favorite place to hang out in Palm Beach?

Mar-a-Lago and Trump International Golf Club.

University of Miami President Donna Shalala didn’t take your advice on whom to hire for its football coach (Trump suggested former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach). So what’s your prediction on the ‘Canes record for next year under Al Golden?

I’ll be surprised if they do well — she missed a great opportunity to turn that team around — and fast.

Stephen Ross owns the Dolphins. Ever think of buying a South Florida sports franchise? Maybe the Marlins?

I have so many projects going on that it doesn’t seem feasible, at least in the near future. Steve will be a great owner of the Dolphins.