It’s either brilliant or the height of arrogance. Six weeks ahead of the election, the Trump Organization has submitted a building plan to the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development to repurpose the White House. Eric Trump has taken the lead on project code-named Trump 1600, which is part of the overall the Trump Office Administration Development (TOAD). The plans call for the ground floor to stay “commercial.” The upper floors will be left intact, and they will raise the roof. A 25-story penthouse tower will soar above the existing residence, with views of Virginia, Maryland, and the “Historic District Skyline.” The northern wall of the tower will boast enormous bay windows to echo the famous portico. Eric Trump indicated that he “knows a guy” and has been promised that the plan review will go ahead so that “we are shovel-ready on day one.”
Cease and Desist
The National Park Service has taken immediate steps to halt review of the plan. It’s filed for a cease and desist order against the D.C.H.C.D. However, the Superior Court denied the motion, ruling that the Park Service had no standing for any development above the top of the White House.
“The owner of air rights over the said dwelling, be it publicly or privately owned, is vested with an interest superior to that of any other party, including the federal government,” said Superior Court Judge Bertha Denier in a brief opinion. “This is especially the case when the holder of those rights has submitted plans that are terrific and will make the location the biggest and most spectacular Presidential Resort in the world. It will be huge,” the court concluded.
Judge Denier refused to comment on her ruling. It is reported that she declined to stay review pending appeal, as she was en route to Mar-a-Lago for her reelection fund-raiser.
At the same time, Trump Organization lawyers have filed for eminent domain of Lafayette Park and Blair House. They also have filed an unsolicited sealed bid to buy the Eisenhower Executive Office Building for private development. The proposed name is the Trump District District. It will offer a high-rise of sixty-four floors of “the world’s most amazing condominiums, overlooking the Trump Marquis de Lafayette Golf Club, consisting of a clubhouse and the most challenging three-hole course in the Western Hemisphere.” A draft prospectus certifies that the bunkers will be “100% American sand.”
The present West Wing would become a museum dedicated to the memory of the Presidency with the Oval Office becoming a virtual reality exhibition. Customers will experience the feeling of being President by playing one on TV.
The Rest of the Plan
If elected, Trump would keep one of the penthouses available for his occasional visits. Trump will open his primary office in Mar-a-Lago, his Florida residence, with the rest of the West Wing operation in a nearby strip mall leased from a Trump donor. The rest of the executive branch will work out of an existing government building a few minutes by air from the putative Florida White House. Rather than bring in private contractors, the Trumps will use a government labor force to convert the existing prison at Guantanamo Bay into a warren of executive offices with overflow for rental. Acres that have been neglected for decades would be put out to bid for beach front development under a 99-year lease. The plan includes an elaborate common area provisionally named the Bertha Denier Clubhouse.
Almost everyone in the country is outraged by at least some part of TOAD. In addition to the Park Service lawsuit, the A.C.L.U. plans to file to stop the loss of Lafayette Park as a site for assembly and protest. The National Heritage Conservancy has fast-tracked recognition of the White House as a landmark of historic significance. Many groups have joined in a mass filing with the D.C. Zoning Commission to limit the redevelopment of the White House to five stories. This would make TOAD unprofitable.
The proposed relocation of the Presidential headquarters has drawn international scorn as well. Trump is the first private citizen to be censured by the United Nations General Assembly. Al Qaeda and ISIS have threatened reprisals if a Trump-led U.S. follows through on the plan to recast the Cuban prison as a government enclave and pleasure palace. Eric Trump uncharacteristically tried to appease those enraged by his plan.
“All workers will get first-class meals and comfortable lodgings as long as the project lasts. Their efforts will be recognized,” said Eric Trump. Then he held up the sign to be affixed to each building: “This House Was Built by Enemy Combatants.”