Politics & Government

Donald Trump brings his Midas touch to stump in South Florida

Republican presidential candidates, businessman Donald Trump, right, and Ben Carson appear during the CNN Republican presidential debate Sept. 16 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif. CNBC and the Republican presidential candidates agreed Friday, Oct. 16, on the format for the third debate, a day after Trump and Carson threatened to boycott unless they got their way. The Oct. 28 debate will be two hours long and include closing statements from the participating candidates, said Brian Steel, CNBC spokesman.
Republican presidential candidates, businessman Donald Trump, right, and Ben Carson appear during the CNN Republican presidential debate Sept. 16 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif. CNBC and the Republican presidential candidates agreed Friday, Oct. 16, on the format for the third debate, a day after Trump and Carson threatened to boycott unless they got their way. The Oct. 28 debate will be two hours long and include closing statements from the participating candidates, said Brian Steel, CNBC spokesman. Associated Press file

MIAMI -- Donald Trump is a creature of New York. But when he comes to South Florida, it's still a homecoming.

The Donald has been a fixture in local power circles for three decades -- and pulled in more than $90 million last year from the properties he owns in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

That's nearly five times Jeb Bush's entire net worth. And it doesn't even include the cash Trump raked in from real-estate licensing deals that brand luxury condos and hotels built by other developers with the Trump name.

Bush and Marco Rubio may be Miami golden boys in the 2016 Republican primary. But Trump has made the most by millions from his businesses here.

"His touch on the project was absolute magic," raved developer Gil Dezer, who partnered with Trump on two Sunny Isles Beach licensing projects.

No local venture has been more lucrative for the tycoon than Trump National Doral, the golf resort where Trump will hold his first Florida campaign rally -- presumably rent-free -- at 7 p.m. Friday. Trump reported nearly $50 million in revenue from the opulent resort in 2014, according to a financial disclosure form he filed as a presidential candidate.

Then there's Mar-a-Lago, the historic West Palm Beach estate Trump turned into a lavish private club. It collected more than $15 million last year. His two golf clubs -- Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach and Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter -- brought in more than $12 million each.

In all, those four properties brought Trump $90,148,884 in 2014. Add the $1.9 million in golf money he received from the White Course in Doral and the total climbs to more than $92 million, or a quarter of his $362 million in annual revenue. (Trump National Doral used to lease and operate the White Course, which belongs to a Singapore government fund, though the lease has since ended.)

Trump doesn't own any other revenue-generating properties in Florida, though he lists two Palm Beach residences. He tried last year to take over management of the waterfront Crandon Park golf course owned by Miami-Dade County but withdrew the proposal this year after facing opposition from elected commissioners.

Bush, himself a developer and investor, and his wife, Columba, are worth between $19 million and $22 million, his campaign has said. Bush made about $8.4 million last year from speaking fees and consulting through his Jeb Bush & Associates firm, which he divested from to run for president.

Sen. Rubio is far less affluent. The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics estimated his worth at about $443,000 as of 2013, but Rubio has since added to his wealth. He received $30,000 in book royalties for 2014 and between $100,001 and $1 million in additional royalties for 2015.

Forbes pegs Trump's net worth at $4.5 billion, though the candidate throws around a $10-billion figure. Disclosure forms require candidates to report various sources of income, assets and liabilities, many of them in ranges instead of exact numbers.

Several South Florida high rises bear Trump's name, though he didn't build them: Trump Grande and Trump Towers -- both in Sunny Isles -- and Trump Hollywood in Broward County.

Licensing forms an increasingly important part of Trump's business portfolio, allowing him to take a cut off a building's revenue without risking capital to construct it. Exactly how much Trump made from each licensing agreement is unclear.

"Value not readily ascertainable," read many of the licensing entries on Trump's disclosure form.

Trump Marks Sunny Isles II LLC, the corporate entity that licensed one of the projects to Dezer, the developer, didn't list any income above $201 in 2014. Trump Marks Sunny Isles I LLC listed royalties between $100,001 and $1 million.

The hotel portion of a Trump Grande licensing deal signed in 2001 was reportedly worth $4 million and gave Trump $2.25 for every occupied room.

"The name has brought a cachet to certain areas that wouldn't have had it," Trump told the Herald in 2005.

Dezer said Trump's name put Sunny Isles Beach on the map as a classy destination -- and the Trump-branded condo units sold "10 to 20 percent higher than any of our competitors, and at a faster pace."

"We didn't have any foreclosures or anything, despite the crisis," he said.

Trump Hollywood, originally built by the Related Group, fell into foreclosure in 2010. Developer BH-3 bought the building in 2011 and kept the Trump brand.

Jorge Pérez, Related's chairman and chief executive who lost his two Trump projects during the economic crash (Pérez had also developed Trump Towers), said Thursday in a statement to the Herald that Trump remains a "good friend" who "has always been a great and honorable partner in all the deals we've done together."

"Most importantly we like and respect each other very much and enjoy each other's company," Pérez said.

"As with many of my other business partners who are Republican, we have very different political views," he added. "I consider myself a bit on the Democratic left and many of my friends/partners, like Donald, are conservative Republicans."

Pérez is a top political donor to a super PAC -- backing Bush.

Miami Herald staff writer Nicholas Nehamas contributed to this report.

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