Israel Almost Had Its Own Trump Tower

YERUSHALAYIM -
The Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

On his visit to Israel, President Donald Trump will be spending nearly all his time in Yerushalayim – so it’s unlikely he will have the chance to check out the site that was once set to be the location for the Israeli Trump Tower. A report in Globes Monday charts the course of the former Elite candy factory in Ramat Gan, where the Trump Group, along with another American investor, had planned to build the 70-story Trump Plaza Tower.

The site, at a busy intersection on the border of Ramat Gan and Tel Aviv, was the home of Israel’s largest candy makers for decades, but rising real estate prices and the need to modernize the factory convinced the owners to sell the property and move the factory elsewhere. The 15 dunams at the Elite Junction, named after the factory, was purchased in 2006 for $44 million by the Trump Group and Miami-based Cresent Heights, a major real estate developer in Miami, New York and elsewhere. Both Trump and Crescent Heights owner Sonny Kahn were experienced hotel and skyscraper developers. At 70 stories, the building would have been the tallest in Israel.

The group purchased the land while Elite was still using the site, and the factory was moved several months after the sale. However, according to Globes, rising real estate prices in the area convinced the group to sell. The 15 dunams were purchased by a consortium of investors led by the Azorim construction group for $80 million about a year after the original sale – nearly doubling the money Trump and Crescent Heights paid for the land.

Azorim redrew the plans, this time planning to build a 60-story building, which would include office space and 296 apartments. However, the project was frozen as investment money dried up due to the financial crisis that hit the U.S. in 2008. Plans were reformed for a 65-story tower, and the group got the go-ahead for the project in 2014. However, various legal challenges forced Azorim to halt sales, and contracts that had been signed for space in the buildings were canceled. The site is still undeveloped. Azorim said in a statement to Globes that it was “working to restore the permits that the Ramat Gan municipality canceled. Once this happens we will decide what to do with the land.” It is not clear if the company will try to recruit Trump’s real estate firm to come back and help out.