Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton's (D-DC) 15-year effort to get the General Services Administration (GSA) to redevelop the Old Post Office (OPO) building and annex on Pennsylvania Avenue in the District of Columbia, bore fruit today with the announcement that the GSA has reached terms with the Trump Organization on a 60-year lease to redevelop and manage the historic building as a luxury hotel. Norton pressed for the deal to get done in time for the congressionally mandated layover period to elapse before the start of the August recess. The Trump Organization, led by Donald Trump, is now moving its own schedule forward to open the hotel by late 2015 or early 2016. Norton has spoken with Ivanka Trump, who leads the project, several times and today also spoke with Donald Trump.
Norton said the Trumps were elated to have won the competition to remake the OPO. "Make no mistake -- this is Ivanka's project. It has been my pleasure to have the rare opportunity to work with a major developer who happens to be a remarkable young woman," said Norton. "The Old Post Office lease starts a win-win for all involved - the federal government, the District of Columbia and the Trump Organization. Taxpayers will start earning revenue as soon as the lease is executed. In a town of major hoteliers, there was some surprise that a New York hotel magnate won the competition, but Trump put revenue on the table and had a winning team."
The deal requires a minimum base rent and a percentage of the revenue to go to the federal government.
All along, Norton was able to get strong bipartisan support for the project, especially from two chairs of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, former Representative Jim Oberstar (R-MN) and Representative John Mica (R-FL). Mica even held two hearings in a cold, vacant OPO building to put proverbial heat on the project.
Norton tried for almost 10 years to get GSA to use its administrative authority to redevelop the building, but the Office of Management and Budget kept stalling. Therefore, in 2008, Norton successfully passed her bill, the Old Post Office Development Act, to require the GSA to proceed with redevelopment.