We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Heaped with praise from city and federal officials, Donald Trump officially broke ground this morning on his $200 million project to convert the Old Post Office building on Pennsylvania Avenue NW into a luxury hotel.

“I promise you, this will be a great not only hotel, but economic development project,” Trump proclaimed at the ceremony.

“Today, we’re shovel-ready,” said Trump’s daughter and executive vice president Ivanka Trump. “Now the fun and the hard work begins.”

The Trump International Hotel will feature 270 rooms that the Trumps say will be the largest in the District, averaging more than 600 square feet, with presidential suites of 3,500 and 5,000 square feet, in addition to a grand ballroom and meeting and event space. The Trumps hope to complete the hotel in time for the next presidential election in November 2016.

Executive Vice President Eric Trump, Donald Trump’s son, says construction will begin “almost right away,” and certainly within a month’s time.

Mayor Vince Gray enthused about the economic benefits the hotel will bring the city, including an expected 700 construction jobs and 300 permanent jobs, and $100 million in tax revenue over 10 years. “Not to be mercenary,” he said, “but we look at those numbers every day.”

He also praised another benefit of the project: the revitalization of Pennsylvania Avenue, called “America’s Main Street” but suffering from an overabundance of imposing government buildings and a lack of more inviting spaces like shops and restaurants. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton added that when combined with the expected redevelopment of the FBI headquarters building across the street, “You are about to see the most important change on Pennsylvania Avenue since the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation resuscitated the avenue [beginning in the 1970s] in the first place.”

The Trumps ushered in the construction phase of the project with a musical number by a group of bell ringers in the 1899 building’s historic bell tower, which at 315 feet is the city’s third-tallest structure. “The next time we’ll hear these bells ringing,” said Ivanka Trump, “is when we’re all inside the cortile celebrating the opening.”

Photos by Aaron Wiener