Former President Donald Trump, who once called the White House a dump, won permission to build more toilets at Mar-a-Lago Club.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission of Palm Beach unanimously voted last month to approve a certificate of appropriateness for a 380-square-foot expansion of the private club and historic landmark to add space for two new bathrooms.
The vote on bathrooms at Mar-a-Lago suggests that Trump has forged a friendlier relationship with the local government in Palm Beach since his presidency ended a year ago.
About two weeks ago, Trump called Richard René Silvin, chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and conveyed his thanks for the bathroom vote.
“I received an interesting phone call on January 5th,” Silvin said at the commission’s meeting on Wednesday. “The call was from former president Trump. Had it not been set up in a very proper way, I would have thought this was a joke. But it wasn’t.”
Silvin told his colleagues on the commission that his conversation with the former president lasted seven minutes: “He explained the necessity of adding the bathrooms … I told him the vote passed, seven to zero. And that’s when he specifically asked me to pass along his gratitude to you all. Nothing else was discussed.”
The town council ratified the bathroom vote by the landmarks commission, allowing the addition of a 215-square-foot women’s restroom with four toilets and a 165-square-foot men’s restroom with two toilets and three urinals in the Post Ballroom at Mar-a-Lago.
“There are restrooms at the front [of the ballroom] and that means you have to announce to everyone in the lecture or the event you’re attending that you’re headed to the bathroom,” Harvey Oyer, an attorney on behalf of Mar-a-Lago, said at the town council meeting on Dec. 15. “They’re inadequate. They’re not well placed.”
When Trump lost the 2020 election, some of his Palm Beach neighbors tried to stop him from residing at Mar-a-Lago after he moved out of the White House. They claimed Trump was not an employee of the private club and thus violated a 1993 agreement with the town government allowing employees, not guests, to reside at the club at 1100 South Ocean Boulevard.
That came about three years after several news publications reported in 2017 that Trump told members of his New Jersey golf club that he was spending so much time away from the White House because it was a “real dump.”
Palm Beach’s town council’s attorney, John Randolph, concluded that Trump did not violate the 1993 agreement and advised council members to allow Trump to live in his owner suite at Mar-a-Lago.
The former U.S. commander in chief serves as president of Mar-a-Lago and meets the definition of a “bona fide” employee of the resort, John Marion, an attorney for Trump, told the town council last February.
In 2017, the New York Times reported that Trump upset some of his neighbors by staging a loud Elton John concert at Mar-a-Lago, and got into a fight with the town government over an 80-foot flagpole on club grounds, taller than allowed by local regulations. Some residents of Palm Beach also objected when Trump got permission from the town government in 2017 to build a concrete landing pad near Mar-a-Lago for Marine One, the helicopter used to transport U.S. presidents.
But even as Trump was claiming that he won the 2020 election, the helipad was demolished in early 2021, as promised, after his one-term presidency ended.
Mar-a-Lago was built in 1927 for cereal company heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post and her husband, E.F. Hutton. Trump acquired Mar-a-Lago in 1985, and Congress placed the 18-acre property on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.