Earlier this year, GSA announced that it had selected the Trump Organization to redevelop the historic Old Post Office Pavilion and annex as a world-class luxury hotel. Since then, the Trump team (headed by the Donald’s daughter, Ivanka) has been working through its plans and has held half a dozen meetings with officials from the agencies involved with the redevelopment project—which include, in addition to GSA, the District of Columbia government, the U.S. National Park Service, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission.
Late last month, the Trump team—with architects from Beyer Blinder Belle and WDG—unveiled their most detailed vision for the property to date, both to GSA officials at a meeting on November 27 at GSA’s regional headquarters and, two days later, to the DC Preservation League at that group’s annual membership meeting. Their presentations included a few renderings and described the potential location of public entrances, restaurants, parking, guest rooms and suites and a new mezzanine level in the building’s main core.
The Trump Organization’s David Orowitz told the preservation group—which had helped save the building from demolition more than 40 years ago—that the Trump team sees the hotel as its top project and that it will place a heavy emphasis on preservation. Orowitz and the Trumps all have said that their goal at the Old Post Office is to build the best hotel in Washington, D.C., the country, even the world.
According to architect and Beyer Blinder Belle partner Hany Hassan, who presented the vision for the building to the preservation group, the tentative plan would extend the original ground floor level in the building’s central cortile—bringing back the “slab” on which the first post office workers sorted mail—and open it up to public entrances from all sides for the first time. Hotel drop-offs would be located on 11th and 12th streets; retail space and casual restaurants with outdoor seating would be set along C Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.
The plan calls for locating the public entrance on the building’s south side to a lobby leading to the tower elevators and the Clock Tower Museum, which first opened to the public in 1985. The existing mezzanine likely will be expanded for a restaurant or café, while the glass annex that was added to the building in the early 1990s (and has been vacant for many years) will contain banquet rooms, conference rooms and public event spaces. Upper levels will house guest rooms while preserving the building’s original room layout as much as possible. The large postmaster general’s office on the fifth floor, for example, might become a luxury suite. Windows might be added on the ninth floor to provide guests with views of the city.
While some elements of this plan may not be approved because of concerns about how they would affect the historic structure, they do provide a first look at where the project may be headed, as GSA and the Trumps work toward signing a lease agreement for the property early next year. (Trump has proposed an annual lease payment of $3 million.) Construction could begin in 2014 and the approximately 250-room Trump International Hotel, Washington, D.C., could open in early 2016.