LONDON — The new U.S. Embassy in London, denigrated last week by President Donald Trump as too expensive and poorly located, opened its doors to the public Tuesday for the first time.
The gleaming embassy, in the formerly industrial Nine Elms neighbourhood in south London, replaces the embassy in Grosvenor Square that had for decades been associated with the U.S. presence in the United Kingdom. That building has been sold to a Qatari government investment fund planning to turn it into a luxury hotel.
U.S. officials say it would have cost hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade security at the older building and bring it up to modern safety standards.
Trump tweeted last week that he would not come to London to open the embassy because the new embassy represented a poor investment.
The president’s tweet read: “Reason I cancelled my trip to London is that I am not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for “peanuts,” only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars. Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!”
He blamed predecessor Barack Obama, although the project was announced in October 2008 during the presidency of George W. Bush.
U.S. officials say the new embassy cost $1 billion (1.38 billion pounds) and was paid for entirely with money raised by the sale of other U.S. government properties in London.
The new building, with its distinctive cube shape, is nearly twice as large as the Grosvenor Square facility. It is the single most expensive embassy building ever built by the United States.
Robert Johnson, appointed by Trump as U.S. ambassador to Britain, called the new energy-efficient embassy a “bargain” during a pre-opening tour for journalists last month. He said the embassy, which does not have a perimeter fence, is both welcoming and secure.
There were no ceremonies to mark the official opening of the facility Tuesday.