The first of two major redevelopments expected on Pennsylvania Avenue, “America’s Boulevard,” broke ground July 23 as construction began to transform the Old Post Office into the Trump International Hotel.
The Trump family, including Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump, was joined by Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, Mayor Vincent Gray, Councilmembers Marion Barry, Anita Bonds, Muriel Bowser, Jack Evans and Vincent Orange, as they broke ground on the ultraluxe hotel at 1100 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, which is less than four blocks from the White House.
Trump signed the $3-million annual lease in August 2013, after being selected by the General Services Administration to make over the building in February 2012.
A block away and across the avenue, the F.B.I. is pondering a new headquarters before it leaves its square-block building, providing the second key for redevelopment and re-energizing Pennsylvania Avenue.
“We are absolutely thrilled to break ground today on what will be . . . one of the finest hotels anywhere in the world,” said Donald J. Trump, head of the Trump Organization during the July 23 ground-breaking ceremony in front of the entrance to the Old Post Office. “Throughout the next two years, we will work to restore this magnificent building to even well beyond its original grandeur . . . and it will be completed prior to November of 2016—a very special date.”
Ivanka Trump, lead developer for the $200-million conversion project, said, “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to redevelop one of this country’s most historic buildings, and we will spare no effort to ensure that the hotel, once completed, lives up to the legacy and integrity of this iconic landmark.” She also thanked all the right people.
In her remarks, Eleanor Holmes Norton said to Ivanka Trump, “I can’t believe you gave birth to a baby and a building in the same year.”
Among the crowd was Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and is known for urging that the GSA redevelop or sell underused federal properties. He was thanked by Donald Trump, who asked him to speak. Mica simply went to the microphone and said, “Thank you.”
Also stepping up to the podium was Councilmember Muriel Bowser, Democratic nominee for mayoral and chair of the District Council’s Economic Development Committee, who turned to the elder Trump and said, “Donald, I know you make no small plans.” Bowser added, “And that’s exactly what we see in our future: No small plans.”
And the Old Post Office is no small place.
According to the Trump Organization, the new hotel “will feature 270 richly luxurious guest rooms, averaging more than 600 square feet, making them the largest in Washington, D.C. Additionally, two extraordinary presidential suites, located in the historic former offices of the Postmaster General and averaging 3,500 and 5,000 square-feet, will be among the largest in the country. The property will also offer 36,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including a 13,000-square-foot grand ballroom, the largest among D.C. luxury hotels. Guests of Trump International Hotel, Washington, D.C. will also experience a 5,000-square-foot Mar-a-Lago Spa by Ivanka Trump and state-of-the-art fitness center, luxury retail and renowned restaurants.”
It was not all superlatives and glad-handing during the groundbreaking of gold-plated shovels.
At-large Councilmember David Catania tweeted, “Never been happier to NOT be there.”
Outside the 12th Street entrance to the groundskeeping stood members of Unite Here Local 25, a hotel worker union, which asserts, “Donald Trump is constructing a palace for the rich and keeping District residents poor at the same time.” The union fights for middle-class wages and has urged employers to fight inequality.
The Trump International Hotel is expected to involve 1,000 construction jobs, to hire 300 permanent hotel workers and to generate $100 million in taxes to the District of Columbia over 10 years.