| WASHINGTON, Sept 12
WASHINGTON, Sept 12 Republican U.S. presidential
candidate Donald Trump was set to open the latest outpost in his
real estate empire on Monday, a luxury hotel in a historic
building five blocks from the White House that underwent a
two-year, $200 million renovation.
While staff at the 263-room Trump International Hotel
planned little hoopla for what they described as a "soft
opening," about a dozen protesters opposed to the New York real
estate developer's presidential run gathered outside. The
opening comes eight weeks before the Nov. 8 election.
"It kind of fits his personality that he finds a way to be
on Pennsylvania Avenue, one way or another," said protester Judy
Byron, 70, a Washington artist.
The hotel is at 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, and the White
House address is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The hotel is housed
in Washington's third-tallest building, the 1899 Old Post
Office, built in the Romanesque Revival architectural style.
The protesters criticized some of Trump's positions,
including a promise to build a wall along the Mexican border to
block illegal immigrants. Protest organizer Andrew Castro of
Baltimore said, "We're out here building a wall against racism."
Trump said on Twitter on Monday that he had made a brief
stop at the property "to thank all of the tremendous men & women
for their hard work!"
A grand-opening ceremony is planned for next month, but the
first guests were due to check in on Monday.
Trump attended the July 2014 groundbreaking for the
renovations alongside local Democratic officials before
launching his presidential campaign last year.
Trump's company holds a 60-year lease from the U.S.
government for the property. It is paying $3 million-a-year in
rent for the building, which fronts the parade route for
Rooms will start at $396 a night, with suites starting at
$556, according to the hotel's website.
While Trump's name is hard to escape in his native New York
City, where it adorns structures including the lavish Trump
Tower as well as Trump SoHo, Trump Parc, Trump Place and a
recently opened Bronx golf course, the hotel marks his most
visible presence in Washington.
As such, it became a target for protests early in Trump's
campaign. His comments describing some Mexican immigrants as
rapists and drug dealers prompted celebrity chefs Jose Andres
and Geoffrey Zakarian to pull out of the project. Trump has sued
A spokesman for the National Park Service said discussions
were under way with the General Services Administration, which
handles government real estate, over resumption of tours to the
building's landmark tower.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Additional reporting by Amy Tennery;
Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)