“The Donald” will be making his mark on Washington, D.C.’s Pennsylvania Avenue pretty soon. Last year, the federal government selected The Trump Organization to redevelop the 114-year-old Old Post Office Pavilion, famous for its 315-foot clock tower with a 360-degree view of the nation’s capital. Trump struck a $200 million deal to convert the building into a 250-room luxury hotel. This lavish hotel is expected to feature penthouses, presidential suites, restaurants, cafes, bars, banquet rooms, a spa, library and a museum gallery.
Trump is not the only developer with his eyes set on remodeling historic landmark buildings. In a post on the “TODAY” Show’s website, columnist Rob Lovitt writes, “With financing for new construction still tight, renovating former post offices, courthouses and office buildings is considered a way to provide uncommon lodging experiences for guests while preserving civic landmarks.”
“The allure of a historic building is its grandeur, its location and its architecture,” adds Bruce Ford, senior vice president of Lodging Econometrics, which tracks hospitality-industry transactions. “To integrate that into a modern development can be a home run if it’s done right.”
Ford also points out that he has seen dozens of buildings successfully revamped, and many others that have failed. “It takes a very savvy developer to put it together, and it usually takes a big commitment from the city to see it through.”
Besides keeping the structural integrity and beauty of these historic buildings, developers face obstacles with remodeling older buildings. When rehabbing a historic property, promoting energy efficiency and sustainability is crucial.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agrees: “Repurposing old buildings — particularly those that are vacant — reduces the need for construction of new buildings and the consumption of land, energy, materials, and financial resources that they require.”
The EPA offers a list of resources for communities on how to incorporate historic preservation into smart and sustainable growth plans.
Here in the Georgetown neighborhood of D.C., we’re eager to see if Trump’s conversion of the Old Post Office Pavilion will be one of the success stories that Ford describes. Will sustainability be a top priority for the developers? Will Trump retain the essence of this grand historic building and its public viewing tower? We’ll have to wait to find out; the target opening date is early 2016.