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October 3, 2007
By KEN VALENTI
THE JOURNAL NEWS
NEW ROCHELLE —Now that Trump Plaza is open, the celebrity developer whose name it bears made another visit last night to celebrate, and took another chance to talk grandly of it.
"It's been an amazing joy. It's an amazing building," Donald Trump told a crowd of 300 gathered in front of the downtown tower at 175 Huguenot St. With some 35 families already making the tower their home and more moving in, Trump and the building's developer, Louis Cappelli, threw a party last night. Attending were local officials, new residents and prospective buyers considering paying the prices from the mid-$500,000s to $1.7 million for the units.
"I'm thrilled," Cappelli said during the party. "It came out fantastic. The workmanship is great. The design is young and hip, and everybody loves it."
At some 440 feet tall, the building is about 40 feet shy of being the tallest in the county. The only taller buildings are the two towers of the Ritz Carlton hotel-condominium complex in White Plains, another Cappelli project, which is not yet open.
Cappelli and Trump thanked everyone—the political leaders, the builders, the bankers, the sales team, even the Thompson and Bender public relations firm that put the event together. Mayor Noam Bramson and former Mayor Timothy Idoni—now the Westchester County clerk— praised the building as a bold stroke to revitalize the city. It sits on what for decades was a parking lot, stubbornly resistant to development.
"Trump Plaza both represents and contributes to remarkable change in our downtown," Bramson said.
Then Trump and Cappelli crossed the interwoven white, beige and brown marble floor of the lobby and took a tour of model units on the 21st floor, press and dignitaries in tow. With hardwood floors, granite counter tops and marble in the bathrooms, the visitors gushed about the units.
"It's what I want when I retire," said County Executive Andrew Spano in one unit.
On the seventh-floor common area, they dined on shrimp and tapas, including macadamia-encrusted sea bass medallions and roasted butternut squash risotto with white truffle oil, shaved reggiano and sage. While a jazz combo played, they sipped cocktails made with Trump Vodka, served from a table with twin ice sculptures, a "T" and a "P," and they strolled onto a terrace that wrapped around the floor.
There was little news, however, on the still-missing piece of the downtown revitalization - major retail.
Michael Brown, who is challenging Bramson in the November election, said after the event: "We were promised real retail and we haven't gotten it."
Cappelli said during the party that New York Sports Club is expected to open in the retail section in December, and there are "a lot of other tenants in the wings" for the retail space there and at the New Roc City entertainment center across the street. He said he expects to be able to announce them "in the not-too-distant future."
Cappelli said the Trump Plaza is well-suited for Manhattanites who want a less-expensive place to live a short train ride from downtown. Sales officials said international buyers are coming to the building as well, a phenomenon that prospective buyer Jaye Gillet predicted at the party.
"You're going to have people from all over the world," she said.
Her husband, Harold Gillet, said they were agonizing over whether to leave their San Souci neighborhood by Echo Bay, but that he liked Trump Plaza.
"This place has to be a winner," he said. "It's very expensive, though."
Toni Rabin, who bought a unit on the 12th floor, said she liked it, although she was disappointed in the size of the pool in the common area. But she said the building will help the area.
"Once people are coming in, it's going to upgrade the whole area, which we absolutely need," she said.
Idoni, who served as mayor for 14 years and oversaw the start of the city's downtown building spurt, said he was happy to see the building open.
"I can exhale now," he said.
Dave Kennedy / The Journal News
Donald Trump shakes hands with developer Louis Capelli at the celebration of the grand opening yesterday of the Trump Plaza building in New Rochelle.
Reach Ken Valenti at email@example.com or 914-696-8255.