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Trump leads boom in Baja development

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On Monday, in sales outlets in Hawaii and Japan, Donald Trump set a new world record for single-day property sales, pawning off more than $700 million worth of condo hotels at his new five-star Waikiki resort within a matter of hours.

Come December, he's hoping to repeat the feat on a somewhat smaller scale for his latest undertaking, The Trump Ocean Resort in Baja Mexico.

The 562-unit, Baja-based hotel-condominium has already garnered international attention, drawing prospective buyers from Spain, the United Kingdom, Portugal and Australia. But it won't be until Trump holds a selection event in early December that would-be buyers will find out how big of a slice they can take out of the Trump-Baja pie.

In Waikiki, the selection event resulted in celebrities such as Don Ho buying as big as they could, locking up rooms that ranged in price from the $400,000s to as high as $9 million for the most upscale penthouses.

In Trump's Baja development, which sits about 12 miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border, prices will begin in the mid-$200,000s. Still, the developers of the project contend that it will be the most luxurious development in all of Baja, and say that many other speculators and condo buyers are in agreement with them.

The developers have already received inquiries from thousands of prospective buyers across the world who eagerly await the selection event. There, buyers will meet with sellers during an appointment time and hammer out the terms of a purchase agreement.

Jason Grosfeld, principal of Irongate -- the firm accompanying Trump on the project -- said the event will likely be held in San Diego on Dec. 8 or 9, although final details are not yet clear.

What is clear, however, is that Trump's foray into the booming Baja condo market marks a coming of age for the area.

Hotel owners throughout the region have already begun to point to Trump's property not as competition, but as a tool that will help drive tourism to the region. Already, the economy of the Northern Baja region is largely driven by tourism.

Hugo Torres, the owner of the Rosarito Beach Hotel, said that about 90 percent of the business between the border and Ensenada is from American clientele. He said Trump's resort will continue to bolster that figure, despite significant looming problems associated with long border waits.

This, he said, is the key factor that holds down development in Baja.

"If we didn't have the border problem, we'd probably have 10 times as many hotels," Torres said earlier this year.

Grosfeld said he plans to reduce the effects of the long border wait by offering a charter from San Diego to the doorstep of the hotel that will take an expedited line across the border. He said he expects condo residents will likely purchase a SENTRI (Secure Electronic Network for Rapid Inspections) pass, which enables them to use the special line.

But regardless of the border traffic, the success of Trump's Waikiki property underscores the value of the billionaire's name emblazoned across the hotel's fa├žade.

"It seems to be garnering an international interest," Grosfeld said. "And once again, that's probably because of Trump."

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