WASHINGTON -- The Old Post Office Pavilion and its clock tower on Pennsylvania Avenue NW were nearly demolished a handful of times in the past century, unloved and out of step with prevailing architectural sensibilities -- even before construction wrapped up in 1899. Today, the hulking Romanesque structure, with its giant atrium and tower observation deck is the hottest property downtown.
As early as Thursday, the federal government may announce who will redevelop the building. And big-name interest in the building could potentially bring a luxury hotel inside the historic structure's thick masonry walls.
As The Washington Post reports, additional plans have been submitted as the announcement deadline has neared, including one that could bring a Daniel Libeskind-designed Jewish history museum to the complex.
The mix of competitors include the Trump Hotel Collection, which wants to fashion a 300-room luxury hotel, spa and museum inside the space; Hilton Worldwide, which proposes a 245-room Waldorf Astoria hotel; and Carpenter & Co., which is proposing a 280-room hotel under the Montage brand.
The General Services Administration, which has jurisdiction over the building, would like to find private investors to reinvigorate the money-losing structure. Whomever wins the redevelopment rights, there should soon be some clarity for many of the remaining tenants, who have been hurting for years as the shopping arcade languished, as Washington City Paper's Lydia DePillis documented in August.
While the future of the building may be in providing space for luxury hotel rooms, GSA redevelopment rules have stipulated that public access to the clocktower and its observation deck be maintained.
During the Bush administration, then-lobbyist Jack Abramoff had his eyes on the Old Post Office, wanting to turn the structure into a luxury hotel for some of his Indian tribal clients.