By Emily Goodin - 09/10/13 11:20 PM EDT
Donald and Ivanka Trump said Tuesday they plan to turn the Old Post Office Pavilion into one of the most luxurious hotels in the Washington, D.C., area.
The new hotel would sit just blocks from the White House, home of a frequent target of Trump’s.
“I’d be honored to if he wants,” he said. “I know you’re shocked by that.”
The Trumps won an extensive bidding process to secure a 60-year lease on the historic building on Pennsylvania Avenue.
“They are a stone’s throw from the White House, but they know better than to throw stones,” Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said Tuesday at an event announcing Trump’s plans.
The Trumps signed a lease with the General Services Administration (GSA) last month, but Tuesday’s announcement was packed with press and politicians, including D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D), former D.C. Mayor Marion Berry, and Reps. John Mica (R-Fla.) and André Carson (D-Ind.).
“Normally when you announce a hotel, two people show up,” Trump said.
Trump is no stranger to the city.
He’s attended multiple White House Correspondents’ Association dinners and has long been involved in national politics.
He endorsed Republican nominee John McCain (Ariz.) during the 2008 presidential election and toyed with running for the GOP nomination in 2012.
He joked Tuesday about his unrealized presidential bid and his successful reality TV show, saying “better than ‘The Apprentice,’ better than politics, building is what I do best.’”
Trump’s new hotel is scheduled to open in late 2015 or early 2016. It is to retain many of the features of the Old Post Office Pavilion building, including its wide upstairs hallways.
Trump on Tuesday revealed plans for a massive library and grand ballroom. The atrium will be restored as will the 11th Street entrance.
The hotel will have 270 rooms. No room price is set yet, but it is expected to be among the most expensive in the city, given the building’s location in downtown D.C. and its views of the National Mall.
The historic clock tower, with views that rival that of the Washington Monument, will remain open to the public and will be run by the National Park Service.
The Trumps are spending a lot of money — estimates are at $200 million — to refurbish the building.
“In the end, cost is no object,” Trump said.
The GSA was the government agency organizing the lease of the building. It has argued that leasing the space will save the taxpayers millions of dollars.
When the deal with the Trumps was announced in February of last year, critics pounced, saying the plan was unrealistic.
Trump dismissed those concerns pointing out that his company had restored many historic buildings, including Grand Central Terminal in New York City and The Mar-A-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla.
He also acknowledged the extensive bureaucracy that comes with working in Washington.
“This was a lot,” he said. “We had many, many groups we had to get approval — big groups.”
Ivanka Trump, the real estate mogul’s 31-year-old daughter, was the point person for the company on the project.
She praised the GSA for its decision, saying the company won one of their “most competitive projects.”
She, Trump, Gray and other officials emphasized the hundreds of jobs expected to be created. Gray said the hotel is expected to generate $100 million in tax revenue over the next 10 years.
Completed in 1899, the Old Post Office Pavilion was rarely used as a post office and today features office and retail space.
It has survived two attempts to tear it down as the Federal Triangle complex was redesigned and rebuilt. In 1935, it was set to be demolished, but there was a lack of money due to the Great Depression. In the 1970s, there was another attempt to tear it down, but local citizens banded together and saved the building. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.