Backed by her father and brothers, Ivanka Trump unveiled plans for the renovation of Washington’s Old Post Office on Pennsylvania Avenue at a press conference Tuesday (Sept. 10) marking the culmination of a two-year process to redevelop the iconic building as the Capital’s first Trump International Hotel.
The 114-year-old federal building will emerge in 2016 as a luxury mixed-use development with a full-service spa, upscale restaurants, and some of Washington’s grandest settings for conventions and social events.
The Trumps are putting a lot of money into the project. Ivanka Trump heads the development team for the Trump Organization. Donald Trump has been criticized in the past for leasing his name to other developers for projects, but that isn’t the case here. The Trumps and the Trump Organization are leasing the building from the federal government and will own and operate the hotel, meaning they are putting up whatever money is likely needed for the $200 million project.
Creating a major hotel within the block-square structure will bring new life to downtown Washington. The Old Post Office, located between 11th and 12th Streets in the Federal Triangle on Pennsylvania Avenue, has historic status, so the exterior will not be changed. But the vast interior atrium will bring natural light to a ground floor garden and fountain, where the spa will be located, according to a Trump official.
Designs for the spa have not been revealed. The design firm of Hirsch Bedner is working on the hotel interiors. Known as HBA, this award-winning firm was responsible for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and Spa in Washington, as well as New York and Miami in 2003. Other spa designs by HBA are in some of the world’s top hotels and resorts, including Four Seasons Hotel Beijing, Qua Baths at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, CHI Spa at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore, and The Sanctuary on Kiawah Island. Recently they won top honors among Asian spas for the Grand Hyatt Hotel’s Ahasee Spa in Dubai.
Traditional interiors dominate plans revealed by Trump for guest rooms: High ceilings, crystal chandeliers, and dark woods accent tall windows offering fabulous views of the Mall and Pennsylvania Avenue. The building’s landmark clock tower also will be preserved, allowing free public access to the observation deck operated by the National Park Service.
The Trump International Hotel will be the first new hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue since the Willard reopened 30 years ago. Plans call for a museum to document the building’s history. Gone are the snack stands and souvenir shops that brought busloads of tourists into the atrium. But one wonders if sightseers toting backpacks will roam the new gardens and marble halls.
Congresswoman Eleanor Norton Holmes (DC) joined Washington Mayor Vincent Gray in praising the Trump organization for undertaking the project. Holmes has been passionate about preserving the building, and worked with the Government Services Administration to coordinate numerous federal agencies that had to approve the lease.
In the end, the people of the District of Columbia and visitors from around the world will be winners, she said, as this magnificent hotel becomes a showplace on the nation’s main street.