If location reigns supreme, then the Trump Hotel Collection just won a major prize in Washington, D.C. after a long bidding process, the federal government’s General Service Administration granted Trump the chance to transform the Old Post Office building (an 1899 architectural gem) into a 250-room luxury hotel. Possibly the most enviable building in Washington, it sits on Pennsylvania Avenue just two blocks from the National Mall, the White House and the Smithsonian.
Lawyers and lobbyists populate the business district near the building; the strategic location means it will likely be busy both during the week (for conferences and business travelers) and the weekends (for sight-seeing tourists), a factor to which Trump and other major hotel brands—including Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria—were drawn.
“It’s impossible to get a site in D.C. like this one,” says David Orowitz, vice president of acquisitions and development at Trump. but it wasn’t just the location that attracted proposals from groups from hotels to cultural institutions—the Romanesque Revival building itself stands tall above Pennsylvania Avenue, topped by a clock tower where you can view the entire city.
While such an old structure contrasts with the hotels Trump has erected in the past few years (such as the soaring, glass statement towers in Toronto, Panama and Chicago), the company has a history of restoring and transforming established buildings, including New York City’s Plaza Hotel (which Trump no longer owns) and the ‘60s-era former Gulf and Western building that today houses Trump International Hotel & Tower New York. Negotiations are expected to last for several more months as the GSA and Trump finalize a 60-year lease. If all goes as planned, redevelopment will begin in 2014.
How will Trump put its stamp on the historic property? You can expect spacious rooms, meeting facilities, an exhibition gallery, a museum and indoor and outdoor gardens, according to Orowitz. While specific plans for the restaurant and lounges aren’t solidified, Trump will likely bring in a big culinary name (like the company did with Jean Georges restaurant inside Trump International Hotel & Tower New York).
Preserving the historical heritage of the structure—originally built as a post office and which later housed a whole string of various government agencies—will be paramount, according to the company. “As we got more into development plans, we realized we could work with the historic bones of the building well,” Orowitz says.
Washington VIPs can count on penthouses and presidential suites as part of the plan. the odd, all-glass annex—it was built in the 1980s and juts up against the nearby IRS headquarters—now houses retail shops and quick-service dining, but will be converted to create new retail or meeting space when the hotel opens.
Trump’s takeover won’t mean the beautiful building is lost to the public—the 315-foot-tall clock tower (operated by the National Park Service) will remain open to tourists so it won’t just be hotel guests who get to take advantage of the first-class, 360-degree views.