The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts gave an initial thumbs-up to Donald and daughter Ivanka Trump’s design for the redevelopment of the Old Post Office into a 271-room luxury hotel last week.
The Trumps have been meeting with local historic preservation and planning officials to agree on changes to the building that will allow it to stand out for luxury travelers but retain its historic features and remain a place where the public can ride up and see sterling views of Washington from the building’s clock tower.
The seven-member commission’s action is not binding but it does provide guidance to the Trumps and others stakeholders as plans for the hotel are finalized. Representatives from the Trump Organization and officials from the General Services Administration say they are working through the details of a 60-year lease of the property.
“We are very excited to have reached this important milestone as we advance our plans for the re-development of the iconic Old Post Office building,” said Ivanka Trump in a statement. “We have been working with the Commission of Fine Arts for over a year and their feedback and guidance has been invaluable. We look forward to our continued collaboration as we work towards realizing the full potential of this national treasure.”
Thomas Luebke, secretary of the commission, said commissioners were largely pleased with the Trumps’ plans for the exterior of the building, which include adding new sky lights into the roof for some of the rooms on the top floor and changing the signs and directions on the grounds outside the building.
“They were very supportive overall of the rehabilitation project,” he said.
The main questions commissioners raised at the April 18 meeting, Luebke said, were about how to ensure that the building’s exterior “continues to play a civic role in the city.” The National Park Service will continue to operate tours of the clock tower.
Luebke said that the public role of the building ought to remain visible to visitors even after the $200 million hotel is built.
“It’s really the site development and other structures and other elements adjacent to the building that they really thought needed refining,” he said of commissioners. “They are concerned about the amount and scale of signs.”
The project is likely to come back before the commission before the redevelopment begins but Luebke said it was difficult to predict when.
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