The new Doral real estate venture launched by former President Donald Trump includes the traditional trappings of his promotional playbook: luxury amenities, access to high-end golf and a swaggering statement from Trump himself touting it as “perhaps the most exciting development in the Country.”
But as described in an application to the city’s planning department, the proposed “Doral International Towers” complex lacks one mainstay of the celebrity mogul’s real estate ventures: use of “Trump” in the name.
The four towers, which would rise 42 stories on the footprint of the existing Trump National Doral Miami resort, so far owe their name only to the city where they’d be built and not to the 45th president who wants to build them.
“He gave us the name,” said Felix Lasarte, the Miami lawyer and lobbyist hired by the Trump Organization to get the project with more than 2,000 condominium units through Doral’s zoning and land-use process. “He wants the focus to be on Doral.”
The proposed Doral project fronting Northwest 87th Avenue and 36th Street may offer a case study in Trump’s branding strategy after his first presidential term, which ended with the Republican falsely claiming he won an election and then overseeing an effort to overturn it.
Trump brand: licensing fees, then backlash
Trump’s success as a celebrity real estate mogul and reality TV star brought him one of the most famous names in real estate, with developers in Sunny Isles Beach, Fort Lauderdale and beyond once paying licensing fees to place the Trump name on their towers.
Running for president brought business troubles for Trump. After years playing in Doral, the PGA moved a prized golf tournament to Mexico City in 2016, about a year after Trump accused Mexico of sending “rapists” and other undesirables to the United States through illegal immigration.
In appealing its property taxes in Miami-Dade County in 2018, a lawyer for the Trump Doral said it was “severely underperforming” compared to the Turnberry golf resort in Aventura and other competitors, blaming in part “some negative connotation with the brand.”
Doral was one of the closest cities in Miami-Dade County during the 2020 election, with Trump barely leading Joe Biden 51% to 49%, according to a Miami Herald analysis.
Trump needs approval from the Doral City Council to build the towers, with votes expected later this year. Construction could start at the end of 2023, ahead of a 2024 presidential campaign Trump is hinting he’s ready to run for a second term in the White House.
The proposed towers would be about double the height of the buildings at Doral’s new commercial town centers, Lasarte said, and require review by Miami-Dade County’s Aviation Department.
Luxury condos sold by Trump in Doral?
Along with 2,222 proposed condos — some expected to sell in the $2 million range — the proposed project would also hold about 82,000 square feet of retail and nearly 500,000 square feet of office space.
The resort itself would shrink, going from 643 hotel rooms down to 470 after some demolition of existing buildings. Two of the current 15 buildings would be demolished, Lasarte said.
The five-page letter of intent Lasarte sent the city Jan. 14 outlining the project states the “Trump National continues to be an internationally-renowned and universally heralded golf destination,” but doesn’t mention Donald Trump.
It describes the proposed project as “a mixed use commercial center in the heart of the City’s downtown that will be known as Doral International Towers.”
Trump bought the former Marriott out of bankruptcy in 2012. A disclosure document lists Trump as the beneficiary of the trust behind the entities that own the 54-acre property and its golf courses, including the famed “Blue Monster.”
A Trump project named the Doral International Towers?
Will Trump keep his name off the project?
News of the venture came first from Trump. In a press release issued by his office Jan. 17, Trump celebrated recent upgrades to the Blue Monster and announced a coming “Phase 1” expansion at Doral with luxury housing, retail space and commercial. “This is perhaps the most exciting development in the Country,” the statement said.
After inquiries from the Miami Herald about the lack of the Trump brand, Lasarte said the former president told him Monday night the project will likely carry his name, too.
“He said: ‘These are working plans,’ ” Lasarte said. “ ‘Trump Doral’ is what he called it.”