The Trump International Hotel & Tower: A $200 Million Feeding Trough for Pigeons

Tina has been feeding the pigeons on Fort Lauderdale beach long enough to know them by sight. There's the silver one with a white crown who's the alpha male, mating with all the females and getting the best crumbs. There's also the diva, a khaki-colored bird who stays to herself.

"I'll go down the beach and find her later," says Tina, who lives nearby and didn't want her last name used. "She's a picky one."

Cops sometimes give Tina a hard time if she feeds the birds, as she does daily along A1A. Tourists don't like to be crapped on, Tina knows, so she came up with a fine spot to feed her flock. Every morning, she heads to the Trump International Hotel & Tower. The unfinished skyscraper sits on the beach like an obelisk to the great recession.

Developers defaulted on a $139 million loan that they acquired in December 2006, just as

the housing bubble began deflating. Trump disavowed himself from the failed $200 million project. He merely leased his name to it, he claims, and had nothing to do with the construction. The bank foreclosed in March 2010. But even a foreclosure wasn't easy on a project this large -- at least 80 people who had put down deposits on unfinished condos stepped in to take a cut. Some had put down $300,000 that they'll likely never see again. The lawyers have been bickering ever since.

Whatever once grew in the planter boxes out front has long since shriveled to plant skeletons, and so every morning, Tina uses them to feed the pigeons.

She gives them stale bread and off-brand Fruit Loops. A Canadian transplant, Tina says she didn't always have enough time to feed the birds. But she's working only part time now. "I don't have enough work," she said. "The economy isn't very good right now."

As she dumped the last crumbs from the bag of cereal, she excused herself politely. "I come out here every day," she said, walking past the cheap chain and sign blocking the Trump International's entrance. "Come out here again. You can have some of my bread to feed them."

Eric Barton is editor of

New Times Broward-Palm Beach


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