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Trump's Baja coast condos go on sale

December 09, 2006|From the Associated Press

Donald Trump's new luxury hotel-condominiums on Mexico's booming Baja California coast went on sale Friday, potentially heralding a development boom along the Pacific shoreline just south of the U.S. border.

The Donald did not show up for the one-day sales event at a plush San Diego hotel, but his persona loomed large in the ballroom, where would-be buyers nibbled on biscotti and sipped espresso as they waited to make their bids.

"Trump is my idol when it comes to real estate investments," said Med Sami, 42, of Irvine after forking over $431,000 for a one-bedroom on the fifth floor of the oceanfront property.

Construction of the $200-million-plus Trump Ocean Resort Baja Mexico is expected to begin by the end of March, with the first of three towers to be completed by the end of 2008, according to Irongate, a Los Angeles real estate investment firm and Trump's partner on the project. Prices range from the mid-$200,000s to more than $1 million.

Buyers in the predominantly Southern Californian crowd said Trump's involvement eased concerns about owning land in a foreign country. They were undeterred by violence in the border city of Tijuana, and they paid no heed to protesters outside the hotel who said Trump's property was on one of the most polluted beaches in North America, a charge the developer denied.

Trump's gambit in Mexico comes amid a construction boom on the Baja coast just south of San Diego, fueled by Americans seeking second homes or a lucrative investment.

Gustavo Torres, a real estate broker from the Mexican town of Rosarito Beach, said Trump's towers would be the tallest on the 50-mile oceanfront stretch from Tijuana to Ensenada and could catapult the region ahead of Cabo San Lucas, the peninsula's other big resort area.

Marc Penso, a 46-year-old investor from Irvine, said he didn't plan to keep his new two-bedroom. He is betting that Baja's relatively low home prices -- at least compared with those in Southern California -- will continue to fuel the boom and give him a tidy profit.

"Everyone in this room is doing this as an investment," he said. "There's no one here who's going to own these units in five years."

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