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CHICAGO-The winner of the two companies that are dueling here for the title “largest residential building in North America” can, at this point, be named as the Trump Organization. The firm’s 92-story Trump International Hotel and Tower, a mixture of hotel and condos that have cost almost $1 billion to build, was recently topped off, while the plans for the larger, competing Chicago Spire, a condo building that would soar to 150 stories, have been put on hold until the credit markets clear up.

Eric Trump, VP of acquisition and development for his father’s New York City-based company, admitted to GlobeSt.com that it was all about timing. “It’s a bit of a crazy world right now,” he says. “Timing is our saving grace. I think the chances of getting financing in this market for a project like ours, or the Spire, are pretty much non-existent. There’s just not too many projects going forward in this market.”

However, he admits that though 75% of the condos have buyers, the remaining 25% have been difficult to sell. “With Bear Stearns failing, the market flopping, it’s hurt everybody, there’s no question about it. But I think when you’re dealing with this high-end type of buyer, it’s not going to affect them as much, they have more access to capital than those in mid- to lower-level projects.”

Plus, he says amenities such as 20,000 sf of fitness and spa, a pool on the 27th floor, 100,000 sf of retail, a restaurant (Sixteen) that is already booked solid for more than a month and incredible views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River, have really attracted buyers. “We put together the best in every market we’re in,” Trump says.

The 2.7-million-sf skyscraper has 286 hotel suites, 53 spa guestrooms and 486 condominiums. The firm is closing on the first, bottom phase of residential condos. The retail on the ground floor is not open yet, Trump says. There was talk of selling the retail, but Trump tells GlobeSt.com that while several purchase offers came in, his company is just not interested in unloading the stores. “We have a couple small tenants signed, and we’re in talks with several anchor tenants.” He says he can’t give a firm date for when the retail will open.

He says the company is also doing well with projects around the world, with new buildings opening in Las Vegas and Soho in New York City, as well as new sites in Waikiki, Scotland and Panama. “The economy has been good for companies such as ours, it provides a great opportunity to buy amazing pieces of land, we’re getting properties for 20 cents on the dollar. We just bought an incredible golf course in New Jersey, and have other options on other properties. Times are tough, but I don’t think we’ve been busier,” Trump says.

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