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CHICAGO-Nearly 100 prospects already have indicated an interest in buying one of the 326 luxury condominiums in Trump International Hotel and Tower, and Donald J. Trump says leases on some of the 315,000 sf of office space should be signed in the next three months. “We think we’ll have a substantial portion of the building leased before we start construction,” Trump said Tuesday, when a sales center opened at the site the project, 401 N. Wabash Ave.

Demolition of the squat seven-story Chicago Sun-Times building is expected to begin next summer, says Trump Organization SVP Charles P. Reiss. Completion of the 90-story, $650-million project along the Chicago River is expected in 2007.

“This will be the largest building built in North America since the Sears Tower,” Trump said of his 1,125-ft building, which will include a television antenna that is attracting interest from local stations. “The building will be very, very special. We will spare no expense.”

However, the result will be condominium units, as well as 174 condominium hotel suites, selling in the neighborhood of $800 per sf. While that is a bargain-basement price in projects Trump has developed in his hometown, they are stratospheric by Second City standards. The only units going for more than that threshold are at 65 E. Goethe, where Appraisal Research Counselors reports sales cracking the $1,000 per sf barrier, and The Fordham at 25 E. Superior St., where they recently averaged $771 per sf. Both River North projects are the work of Fordham Development.

Local residential specialists Koenig & Strey will market condominium units ranging from 923-sf one-bedroom units from $470,000 to an 11,616-sf penthouse on the 88th floor, which can be had for $8.7 million.

Trump is introducing the hotel condominium concept to the market with 530-sf studio guest rooms selling for $425,000 to 1,920-sf two-bedroom suites selling from $932,000.

Will the high-end market be there to make Trump’s Tower along the river a success? “We’re talking about years away,” Trump said. “The markets will change three or four times before these are sold.”

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