Friday Question of the Day – What Should Become of the Old Post Office Pavilion?

The Old Post Office Pavilion located at 1100 Pennsylvania Ave, NW is one of my favorite buildings in DC. Though, I always seem to forget that it even exists until the next time I pass it on a walkabout, when I find myself marveling at it’s beauty again. (We judged it back in May ’09) So I was very excited to see some potential news from the Downtown BID:

All eyes are on the Old Post Office Pavilion (1100 Pennsylvania Avenue), the 112-year-old historic landmark that soon could see a new use in the days ahead. The General Services Administration (GSA) is seeking a private partner to restore the 400,000 square foot (SF) property and the adjacent vacant pavilion. GSA plans to issue a request for information soon. Several possible uses have been discussed over the past few years, including turning the seven-story building into a hotel. The building currently houses the National Endowment for the Arts , the National Park Service (NPS), the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and several hundred office workers. In addition, there is 15,000 SF to 20,000 SF of food outlets and tourist retail. The NPS runs the observation facility that provides programming for, and access to, the bell tower, a great place to take in excellent views of Downtown Washington, DC, and the National Mall.

A more active use than an office building could help reinvigorate Pennsylvania Avenue, much as the Newseum (555 Pennsylvania Avenue), Central Michel Richard restaurant (1001 Pennsylvania Avenue) and Café du Parc (1401 Pennsylvania Avenue) have. Several members of Congress, including DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton—a longtime champion of the project’s redevelopment—are anxious to push the project forward. And with good reason: it is reported that the property loses more than $5 million annually due to underutilized space, low retail rents and high operating costs.

So what do you think would be the best use for this amazing building – a hotel? Combination hotel and restaurants? A museum? A movie theater? A Trader Joe’s? (I’m just kidding.) What do you think would be the best (combination of) use(s) for developing this amazing space?

Photo by PoPville flickr user JosephLeonardo

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