Donald J. Trump is synonymous with fame and wealth, but he has created his share of enemies with bold political statements and a corporate resume that includes multiple bankruptcies.
So the General Services Administration surprised some last week when it chose Trump’s hotel company to develop the Old Post Office Pavilion into a luxury hotel.
Robert Peck, commissioner of the GSA’s Public Buildings Service, defended the pick before members of the House subcommittee for public buildings last week, saying that of 10 proposals (most of which were hotels), Trump’s best met the requirements for experience, quality of design and financial commitment. The proposal included a $200 million commitment to renovate the building, but Peck would reveal few other details.
In an interview, Peck said he was not concerned with some of Trump’s earlier companies filing for bankruptcy. “His casinos went bankrupt. I think his hotel operation is okay,” Peck said.
If the GSA can come to financial terms with Trump and its private equity partner, Colony Capital, on a deal that leads to redevelopment of the Old Post Office at 1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW into a 250-room luxury hotel complete with high-end restaurants, it could help restart the revitalization of Pennsylvania Avenue east of the White House toward the Capitol — a movement that began decades ago but stalled during the financial crisis.
The drive to revive the corridor began with the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corp., a nonprofit created partly in response to displeasure with the J. Edgar Hoover FBI headquarters. Now that building, across the street from the Old Post Office, may be on its way out, as the FBI and GSA have begun considering other options for the agency.
Other moves, though long-term, could be afoot as well. Rep. John L. Mica, the Florida Republican, continues to insist that the Apex Building building a few blocks east at 600 Pennsylvania NW, be annexed for the National Gallery of Art. He pressed Peck for progress on the idea. “One way or another, we are going to get that building,” Mica said.
Peck said further developments may come in available space on the south side of the National Mall. He said he is working with the National Capital Planning Commission to “create some building sites” there.