Housing Complex

Trump Reportedly Interested in Redeveloping FBI Building

The current FBI headquarters.

D.C., say hello to Donald Trump. He just might be sticking around a while.

Fresh off his unveiling of plans for a downtown luxury hotel in the Old Post Office building, Trump tells the Washington Post he may be interested in redeveloping another historic property on Pennsylvania Avenue NW: the J. Edgar Hoover Building.

The FBI is looking to leave its outdated headquarters, and the General Services Administration (the federal government's landlord) is hoping to swap that property with a developer for a new headquarters building somewhere in the D.C. area.

“We’ll be watching the FBI as to what’s going to happen,” Trump told the Post. “Whether or not we will bid on it, we may, we may not. Now if we do as good a job as we will do with [the Old Post Office], people may ask us about it.” Trump said he could start to work on the FBI project upon completing the hotel in late 2015 or early 2016.

One half of the project makes plenty of sense for Trump. A new mixed-use building in the heart of the Pennsylvania Avenue corridor would be a big deal, sure to make lots of headlines and money. In other words, it has Trump written all over it.

But what about the other half? Is Donald Trump going to be the right man to build a high-security FBI headquarters, likely in the suburbs? That's much less in line with his past work, and so he'd have to persuade the GSA (and himself) that it's a project he's well suited to.

And if the project does come through, I can only imagine (with a cringe) the argument historic preservationists might make as they seek to attach landmark status to the hulking Hoover Building and ensure that it can't be torn down: Do we really want to replace a classic example of Brutalist architecture with another Trump Tower?

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • http://www.twitter.com/AdamLDC Adam L

    1. The preservationists have already passed on the FBI building. It will not be landmarked.

    2. Trump can't build a tower, at least not one taller than 130 feet.

  • http://www.twitter.com/AdamLDC Adam L

    Correction to above: that stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue where the FBI site is located allows buildings up to 160 feet.

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  • Tear It Down

    "Do we really want to replace a classic example of Brutalist architecture with another Trump Tower?"

    Absolutely YES.

    (Obviously 'tower' as defined by Penn Ave zoning regs.)

  • eponymous

    Have you seen most of Trump's buildings (especially the latest one in Chicago)? If you translate that to a low-rise city, it's not much of an improvement over the Hoover building.

  • John H

    I was walking down 9th St by the building on Tuesday, and you could see up into the sunlit courtyard, and I thought to myself that really, it's not the concrete form that's objectionable. What makes it suck is the total lack of presence on the sidewalk. Looking at it, I think the existing building could be easily renovated to make it have a much more friendlier engagement with the street. Right now, low concrete walls surround a moat to prevent the peasants from storming the castle. If you filled in the moat with 2- or 3-story, more transparent structures that allowed you to walk into retail shops, or walk up to more shopping and dining in the courtyard, you could allow the people to swarm around the base of the powerful, sculptural tower.