A Conversation With Ivanka Trump About Winning the Old Post Office Bid

The Trump Organization says it’s committed to making the historic property the “finest hotel in the country, if not the world.”

By: Carol Ross Joynt

Photograph courtesy of Ivanka Trump.

The Trump Organization scored a big win this week when it was chosen to redevelop the historic Old Post Office building on Pennsylvania Avenue. The late-19th-century building and clock tower were last redeveloped in the 1980s. The architect at that time was Arthur Cotton Moore, who is also the architect for Trump. What it will mean to Pennsylvania Avenue is another mixed-use development, similar to the J.W. Marriott hotel complex and joining the also historic Willard Hotel and the W, which for decades was the Hotel Washington.

The proposal calls for a Trump International Hotel with 250 rooms, plus restaurants, a spa, and conference facilities. Current tenants of the Post Office building include the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. They will be relocated during the redevelopment project, which is expected to begin in 2014 and end in 2016.

This will be the Trump family’s first development project in Washington. Ivanka Trump, the Donald’s daughter, handled the negotiations. She’s not a Washington novice, having spent two years at Georgetown University before transferring to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

We caught up with her this week to ask a few questions.

When did you get the news about the GSA decision?

We found out on Tuesday morning that we’d been selected, and we couldn’t have been more thrilled.

When did you start the bidding process?

Last March.

You went to college in Washington. Did you ever visit the Old Post Office then? If so, what did you think of the old building?

Oh, yes, I certainly admired the building while I was there. It is one of DC’s most beautiful, iconic assets. It was just underutilized at the time.

How did you choose your architect, Arthur Cotton Moore?

Arthur Cotton Moore is a long-time advocate of the Old Post Office. He proposed that it become a hotel back in ’71 and later won a design competition to make it a federal office building with commercial tenants. We’d met him on a previous project that we were looking at but ultimately didn’t pursue, but we were fortunate to be able to bring him onto the team on this one. Arthur has a vision, a commitment, and an understanding of this building like no one else. We found a synergy with him that we know will bring out the potential in the Old Post Office and result in a hotel unlike any other in the market.

What is your vision for the development?

We plan for [the hotel] to include the highest-caliber features and amenities, with more than 250 guest rooms and suites, including penthouses and presidential suites. It will have world-class restaurants, a cafe, and a bar/lounge. We are also planning to have the Spa at Trump, a library, extensive banquet, ballroom and meeting facilities, a curated museum, exhibition gallery, and indoor and outdoor gardens. We are committed to making this the finest hotel in the country, if not the world.

What do you think it was about your proposal that won out over the other bids, including Hilton and the Waldorf Astoria?

We brought a lot of respect for the history of the building, and for the GSA’s objectives for the building. Our organization is unique because it’s an investor, developer, brand, and operator all under one umbrella. We tried to give the GSA a comfort level that all of these functions are able to be handled seamlessly within our organization by our strong and experienced team. My father and I, as well as my brothers, are also personally deeply committed to this project.

Did you personally tell your father that his name will be on Pennsylvania Avenue, after all?

We were both on the call together.