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Donald Trump gets the keys to the Old Post Office

Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka have full reign of the Old Post Office beginning May 31 and are beginning a $200 million overhaul of the building into a 271-room glitzy hotel set to debut in early 2016. 

Trump and the General Services Administration agreed to terms on a 60-year lease for the Pennsylvania Avenue property last summer, in which the government will continue to own the property but the Trumps will pay a base rent of $250,000 a month.

In the meantime, the government has been steadily emptying the building, by relocating the government agencies that were operating upstairs and terminating leases for food court vendors downstairs.  The historic clock tower, which offers one of the best views of the city, closed May 1 and will re-open in 2016. It will continue to be operated by the National Park Service once the hotel opens.

The Trumps’ plan calls for nearly every aspect of the original building’s exterior to be preserved, even the windows. The lion’s share of the work will take place inside and include a nearly wholesale replacement of mechanical systems, as the building’s heating, cooling and electrical systems all need to be replaced.

Turning an office building into a hotel also requires a colossal amount of new plumbing, as every room will need to be outfitted with a bathroom.

Later in the construction, the Trumps plan to tear the outside off the Old Post Office’s rear annex, which was built in the 1980s and hardly ever used, so it can be reconfigured as a massive ballroom. Even later the Trumps plan to build an access drive to the hotel’s entrance along an extended 11th Street.

Trump continues to make controversial political comments about President Obama, foreign policy and other issues, but he is constantly on his best behavior when it comes to the Old Post Office.

As a guest speaker at a National Press Club luncheon May 27, he reiterated his commitment to spending more than $200 million on turning it into be “one of the great hotels of the world.” Though he is generally loathe to praise government, Trump praised GSA staff for their professionalism and credited his wealth for having helped secure the deal.

“One of the reasons that we won was because my financial statement was so strong,” he said. “They want to make sure it gets done.”

Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz