Donald Trump's plans to transform Washington D.C.'s Old Post Office building into the capital's most luxurious hotel commenced Wednesday with a ceremonial groundbreaking.
The 115-year-old building is a prime piece of real estate, located on Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and the Capitol. Its 315-foot clock tower is the third-tallest structure in the district.
"It's really the best location in D.C. by far. I mean, everybody acknowledges that," Trump told The Associated Press
after the ceremony. "We're going to do a building the likes of which D.C. has never seen. I think it will be one of the fine hotels anywhere in the world, and maybe the finest."
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Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat who represents the District in Congress, has been a strong advocate for renovating the space, which has housed small vendors mostly catering to tourists in recent years. When the building was put up for renovation, The Trump Organization won the $200 million federal contract.
"Look at what the Old Post Office had been reduced to — something of an ugly duckling on Pennsylvania Avenue," said Norton. "I think we're about to see the grand old lady back in her iconic glory."
Trumps daughter, Ivanka, is the lead developer on the project, which will create a hotel with 270 guest rooms, multiple restaurants, retail, and a 13,000-square-foot ballroom. The plan is to have the renovation complete by mid-2016, before the presidential election. A past presidential candidate himself, Trump has not declared or denied his candidacy for the nation's highest office in 2016.
Trump's sons Donald Jr. and Eric joined him for the groundbreaking, along with D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray. All of them wielded golden shovels for the ceremony. The new hotel "will show how to get things done because we know how to build, we know how to create beautiful things, important things, and we know how to create jobs," said Trump. "That's what the country has to be doing."
Having received a few protestations about the size of the "Trump" signs on buildings he's constructed in the past, he assured his fellow citizens that for the historic site "The name will be on it somewhere, but it will be very discreet."
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