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Ambitious Trump project in Uruguay is turning into a debacle

Punta del Este, Uruguay

US PRESIDENT Donald Trump's son Eric travelled in January to Punta del Este, a Uruguayan beach town on a spit of land jutting into the South Atlantic Ocean.

He was en route to one of the Trump family company's most ambitious ongoing development projects - a 25-storey, 156-condominium waterfront tower, complete with an indoor tennis court, multiple swimming pools and a rooftop helipad. "It's incredible," Eric Trump said to reporters on the trip. "We have the best building anywhere in Punta del Este, anywhere in South America."

Instead, the cylindrical high-rise is turning into the latest debacle in the Trump Organization's far-flung property portfolio - featuring a little-known Argentine real estate firm in a gaudy, hard-partying town that has been a destination for money launderers and tax evaders.

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If all goes perfectly, Trump Tower Punta del Este will be completed at the end of 2020, about four years behind schedule. But people involved in the project said they are not sure if or when it will be finished.

Construction is barely proceeding. The Miami-based broker handling the sales of condos has sued Trump's local developer.

Some purchasers are now seeking to sell their units, potentially driving down the prices just as the project needs to drum up cash via the sale of new units. The tower is currently uninhabited.

"Of course not," Richard Sampallo, a director of the union that represents the construction crew, said when asked if it will be finished by the end-of-2020 target.

As with its other international developments, the Trump Organization is not actually building the Punta del Este tower. Instead, it licensed the "Trump" name and takes a cut of the revenue from selling units.

The president's company faces a number of challenges as it stakes its future on projects outside the United States.

Other Trump international developments have also flatlined. At least seven other projects announced in six other countries never got off the ground.

Representatives of the Trump Organization and its local partner, YY Development Group of Buenos Aires, declined to comment. NYTIMES