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Financing trouble blocks buyers’ possession of Trump hotel units

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The Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk is getting close to being a year old, but most of the units in the hotel-condominium still haven’t been conveyed to buyers or occupied.

A problem tied to financing the ultraluxury project, which sold out in 2006, blocked conveyance of units to buyers in late November shortly after the tower was completed. At the time of the suspension, only 101 of the building’s 462 units had been transferred to buyers.

Project officials were vague in explaining the holdup in February but said they expected that most buyers would be able to complete their purchases and take possession of their units by March or April in time for an anticipated grand-opening celebration in the spring.

According to property records, unit transactions resumed in late May and are continuing. As of July 22 an additional 64 sales were completed, bringing the total to 165. A lag in property record data collection could mean the number is higher, but project officials would not provide their own figure.

Jason Grosfeld, a principal with project developer Irongate Capital, declined to say whether the problem has been completely resolved. "We’re very pleased with how closings are going," he said.

Grosfeld said he anticipates that a grand opening can be held for Trump Waikiki before the end of the year.

If the latest projected timetable is realized, it would result in the long-awaited debut of the 38-story tower developed with much fanfare in partnership with flamboyant New York developer Donald Trump, whose Trump Hotel Collection is managing the property.

Project officials said the building and its services have exceeded guest and owner expectations despite abbreviated operations. But the conveyance snag has frustrated some investors who in late 2006 put down 20 percent deposits in a sellout of Trump Waikiki units for roughly $700 million, or $1.5 million each on average. The problem also has restricted occupancy because buyers need to take ownership of their units before units can be used for hotel operations. Essentially, most Trump Waikiki units have sat empty since they were finished.

Financing for Trump Waikiki was spread among several entities. Equity investors included global investment firm D.E. Shaw & Co., New York-based investment fund Dune Real Estate Funds and an investment company formed by Australian businessman Solomon Lew. Irongate and the equity investors obtained a $442 million construction loan from a unit of Germany’s Hypo Real Estate Holding.

Hypo struggled during the global financial crisis and needed a $69 billion bailout from the German government.

Following nearly three years of construction, the tower opened Nov. 16 with nightly rates ranging from $255 to $8,000. An urban steakhouse, BLT Steak, operates on the ground floor, and the sixth-floor lobby features an ocean-view bar and cafe called Waiolu which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Opening was delayed for a third restaurant, named In-Yo, which was to feature Italian and Japanese cuisine for dinner and American and Japanese cuisine for breakfast and lunch. Grosfeld said In-Yo should open late this year or early next year.


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