Friday, May 5, 2006 | 7:38 a.m.
On Thursday morning Donald Trump was as high as the tower on the Strip that will soon bear his name.
As other Las Vegas high-rise projects fail to make it past the artist's rendering stages, Trump enjoyed what he termed "explosive" activity over the weekend at his Trump International sales center near the New Frontier on the Strip.
With a floor being completed every five days, construction is far ahead of schedule on the golden-planed 1,283-unit tower. Trump says the project might open in time for a sizzling party on New Year's Eve 2007; previously the opening date had been approximated only as the first quarter of 2008.
And after the weekend's Vegas shopping spree, fewer than 100 of the more than 1,200 units are left for sale (a three-bedroom recently went for $6.4 million; a two-bedroom for $5 million). Trump had announced that the purchase price would be raised by 15 percent on Monday, causing a late rush of buyers over the weekend, he said.
Those who already owned units were given a shot at a second residence at the lower price, and the flurry of activity led to a windfall in excess of $200 million (and a packed parking lot at the Trump International sales office).
Trump said the high demand created a backlog of buyers, prompting him to move the deadline to purchase the units at the lower price back to May 15.
"This project is a tremendous success," Trump said Thursday by phone from his office in New York. "Others aren't doing well, but we are."
Trump was referring to at least a half-dozen projects that have faltered recently in the local high-rise condo market, including Las Ramblas, Aqua Blue, Krystal Sands, Icon Las Vegas, Ivana Las Vegas (fronted by Trump's ex, Ivana Trump) and the Curve.
Trump was characteristically immodest when asked what separates his project from the others.
"I think it's location, brand and great architecture," he said. "The rooms are fantastic, the contractors have done a great job and we have sold a tremendous number ... we will be sold out very shortly."
Trump, who was in Scotland over the weekend, said he will return to Las Vegas in a couple of weeks to check on the project. Trump International is a joint partnership with New Frontier owner Phil Ruffin; deal-maker Jack Wishna, president and chief executive officer of the business consulting company CPAmerica, brought the sides together.
Great Claire: The Lili Claire Foundation's fourth annual benefit dinner and "Concert for Lili Claire" is set for Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
Jason Alexander will serve as emcee. The dinner will honor Lois Tarkanian with the "Spirit of Leadership" award for her role as a public official and educator; Vincent Schettler with the "Beacon of Hope" award for his contributions to at-risk youth and women's and children's charities; and Dr. John Rhodes with the "Compassionate Care" award for his long medical career in Las Vegas.
The concert, which starts at 9 p.m., features Lifehouse, Vanessa Carlton and Everclear, and will be hosted by stand-up comic Caroline Rhea. Tickets are $60, $45 and $30 and are available at the Mandalay Bay box office (632-7580) or at Ticketmaster (474-4000) ...
Rally time: Playing off the event that served as the centerpiece for the classic 1976 road race movie "The Gumball Rally," "Gumball 3000" roars through Las Vegas on Saturday.
The eighth annual car rally, which covers 3,000 miles, kicked off in London last Saturday and will reach the Hard Rock Hotel on Saturday night. Thus, a party is scheduled, featuring a skateboard exhibition by Tony Hawk and a midnight performance at the Joint by Snoop Dog (who has not been removed from this event as he was a couple of months ago from a Coors/Molson VIP party at the Rio).
Also scheduled to take part in the party are Gumball founder Maximillion Cooper and Hard Rock owner Peter Morton. Expected to appear are Gumball participants Bam Marera ("Viva La Bam"), Ryan Dunn ("Love Actually") and Matt Schultze ("The Fast and the Furious"). Musicians Vince Neil, Travis Barker and Pink are on the guest list as well ...
Yet another party: Palms owner George Maloof is hosting the first Fantasy Suite Block Party on Saturday to trumpet the opening of his hotel's Fantasy Tower. Maloof's fabulous list o' friends includes Avril Lavigne, Travis Barker, members of the Killers, Sophia Bush, Michelle Trachtenberg, Nick Stahl, Seth Green, Krista Allen, Shannon Elizabeth, Sheetal Sheth, Matt Sorum, Lance Bass and "many more surprises" ...
A real production: A music-driven production show starring Night Ranger frontman Jack Blades is planned for Flamingo Las Vegas from May 13 to May 20. "Rock of Ages" will feature '80s music, and a wild-and-wooly preshow of cross-dressers and assorted novelty acts is also planned. The cost is $55-$65 ...
Rock show: Checking out Yellow Brick Road at a swarming-with-locals Rocks Lounge at Red Rock Resort on Wednesday was fellow Rocks Lounge headliners Zowie Bowie and Bobby Black, a member of the Las Vegas Tenors. Zowie Bowie didn't make it to the midnight finale, Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train," but Black did ...
City firefighter?: A commemorative Nevada firefighter plate with the message CTYFF.