Despite challenges, Trump and GSA still a team

AP photo
Real estate developer Donald Trump's effort to turn the Old Post Office building in Washington into a luxury hotel has run into opposition -- and one official protest -- from his competitors, but so far has weathered the challenges.

Washingtonian reported
 Tuesday that BP-Metropolitan Investors LLC, a Washington-based group including Hilton Hotels and Resorts that competed with Trump on the project, had filed an official protest in late April of the General Services Administration's decision to choose the Trump proposal. Trump’s plan envisions turning the building into a 250-room luxury hotel with restaurants, a spa and conference facilities.

GSA rejected the protest on the grounds that the Old Post Office renovation is not an official federal procurement and therefore Metropolitan had no grounds to challenge it.

According to documents Washingtonian obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Metropolitan said GSA had failed to take into account the fact that several of Trump's high-profile real estate projects had run into trouble. The group also said Trump's proposal for the Old Post Office relies on an assumption that he would be able to charge room rates Metropolitan characterized as unrealistic.

When GSA selected the Trump Organization in April to take on the project, it said the company’s proposal "represented the strongest development team, best long-term potential for the local community and most consistent stream of revenue for the federal government."

"Deciding to move forward with redeveloping this iconic property will save millions in taxpayer dollars each year," Robert Peck, commissioner of GSA's Public Buildings Service, said at the time. "The tremendous response from the private sector," he added, allows the government to "better utilize a historic property on our nation's Main Street."

In a statement to Washingtonian, Michael Cohen, special counsel to Trump, said of the challenge to the project: "This is sour grapes by two bitter individuals who are disappointed after the GSA rejected their last-place bid. Donald Trump has no issue with money and there's no issue with the GSA.”
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