Trump Tower to be built within Bears Ears

The president says new monument is a ‘yuge’ investment opportunity.

 

Washington D.C. — Speaking Saturday from the Office of American Innovation in the recently repurposed East Wing library, President Donald Trump announced plans for a new Trump Tower within Bears Ears National Monument.

Why Bears Ears — a location of protracted land-use fights — of all places? Under threats of a massive reversal of the freshly designated monument, Trump wanted to first see whether or not he “might like the place.” As the new head of the Department of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, prepared a trip to meet with opponents of the contentious designation, his aides produced a memo recommending that the monument boundaries be, not only maintained, but also possibly expanded — with a special focus on real estate development. The memo was then leaked to the Oval Office, at which point Trump, who is not an April Fool, said: “Zinke, you will not visit this place. I will.” 

Four days later, after five rounds of golf in Moab, Utah, and a quick drive-by visit to Bears Ears buttes, Trump scheduled a special press conference from the Oval Office. “The spectacular and totally unique desert views remind me of one of my most favorite places in this beautiful country, Mar-A-Lago,” he said. He stopped for a moment, as Kellyanne Conway reapplied her lipstick out of camera view, and lifted up his hands (which didn’t look too small, but might have been a little swollen) as if signaling a field goal. “Picture this: White House West.” 

“The potential for a world-class hotel would bring jobs, jobs, jobs!” the president added, suggesting that the OAI, headed by his son-in-law Jared Kushner, would spearhead the project.

The first blueprints from the OAI were presented at a special cocktail announcement, and outlined a layer-cake structure — actually, that was the pastry model with brilliant white icing and flecks of gold at a prominent center table, but the architect’s specs were there, too. Not unlike other super-modern, super-tall skyscrapers, Trump’s White House West will feature more than just luxury suites for 5,000 guests; it includes a courtyard decked out with rare tropical plants, a golf course and five six-star restaurants. Every tenth floor will have its own sky lobby and atrium tucked between high-end boutiques and portraits of Trump and his wife, Melania. “The hotel will be so spectacular, so amazing — the highest Trump Tower that has ever been built. The world will be watching our magnificent lodging and come from thousands of miles to spend money in our beautiful country,” Trump said at the unveiling.

White House West glints in the evening sun near Indian Creek within Bears Ears National Monument.

Because the area encompassed by the proposed Bears Ears National Monument is so large, “there will be absolutely no problem building the place. And the people of Utah will pay for it,” Trump said. “It’s a paradise — 1.3 million acres in southeastern Utah that are a perfect retreat for our tired American people.” Trump’s tower would be built at the eastern National Forest boundary along with a 6,000-story hotel with views of the La Sal mountains. The president also raised the possibility of an artificial hot springs and a water park along the San Juan River that would be overseen by Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Popular climbing routes near Indian Creek, however, would be closed. “Who wants to see the sweaty bodies of a bunch of dirtbags on their way to a premier resort?” Trump asked the gathered reporters.

Meanwhile, the recalcitrant Utah delegation kept a low profile. In the far corner of the room, mostly out of view, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, furiously jabbed at the screen of his iPhone7 (“Siri, when is my next town hall??”), while receiving a forlorn side-eye from Rep. Rob Bishop R-Utah, who sat behind Trump at the podium. The two left during the cocktail hour before the Navajo tacos (“so authentic you won’t even believe it”) were served. 

Former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, Trump’s secretary of state, spent most of his evening lamenting low gas prices to a group of reporters. 

The plans are not without controversy: an environmental assessment of the OAI’s plans is currently underway and the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition has filed a lawsuit to block the development. The public comment period on the plan extends through April.