Donald Trump breaks ground on the Old Post Office renovation in 2014
Donald Trump breaks ground on the Old Post Office renovation in 2014 Credit: Aaron Wiener

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To hear Eric Trump tell it in a speech at last night’s Republican convention, Pennsylvania Ave. NW’s Old Post Office would be a mess if it weren’t for the civic-mindedness of Donald Trump. The situation at the Old Post Office was so bad, Eric Trump claimed, that the government asked the elder Trump to step in and save it. 

“Throughout my father’s career, he has been repeatedly called on by government to step in, save delayed, shuttered, and grossly over-budget public projects,” Eric Trump said in his convention speech. “Everything from the exterior of Grand Central Terminal in New York to the iconic Old Post Office in Washington, D.C., just to name a few.” 

Despite its prime location, the federally owned Old Post Office wasmainly known for its cheap souvenir shops before the Trump Organization won a lease from the General Services Administration in 2012 to turn the landmark into a hotel. But there’s no evidence that Trump was “called on” by a desperate federal government to save the building. Representatives for the GSA and the Trump Organization didn’t respond to a request for comment. 

Eric Trump’s wording suggests that the government asked Trump to help with the Old Post Office. But in fact, Trump wanted the government to give him the project, not the other way around.

BuzzFeed has reported that Trump beat out nine rival bids for the site by positioning his project around a favorably viewed architect and investment firm (The Trump Organization later changed its mind). Trump desired the project so badly, the Post has reported, that his company promised to invest tens of millions more in the property than rival bidders—an investment that prompted a bid protest from one competitor who said Trump’s resulting hotel room rates couldn’t be competitive in the District.