West Wing to be renovated while Trump is in New Jersey

It’s time for White House staffers in the West wing to pack up and move — temporarily — to make way for necessary structural and cosmetic renovations.

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Pods of furniture being moved out of the West Wing, Aug. 4, 2017.

CBS NEWS / JILLIAN HUGHES

Much of the White House face lift began Friday, as President Trump departed for what a White House official called a “working vacation.” Mr. Trump denies it’s a vacation, however.

Working in Bedminster, N.J., as long planned construction is being done at the White House. This is not a vacation – meetings and calls!

It should be noted that the renovations have nothing to do with Mr. Trump’s reported opinion that the White House is a “dump” (the president tweeted that the report was “TOTALLY UNTRUE”).

The president will spend 17 days at his residence at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, while renovations are underway.

“All of us in lower press will miss seeing you guys every day but we’re definitely looking forward to the much-needed renovations in the HVAC system, as well as throughout the rest of the West Wing,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters told members of the media during a gaggle on Air Force One.

The 27-year-old White House heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems are showing their age, so they’re being replaced, leaving the West Wing without air conditioning temporarily. The West Wing lower lobby and in the Navy Mess kitchen, a small dining facility located in the West Wing basement are also being renovated.

The Navy Mess kitchen is run by the Navy and is available only to senior White House officials, Cabinet secretaries and their guests.

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FILE photo of the White House Mess, a dining facility in the basement of the West Wing, next to the Situation Room

WHITEHOUSE.GOV

In back of the White House, the South Portico steps will get a much-needed update. The steps were rebuilt during President Harry Truman’s major renovation of the White House in 1952 and have not been repaired since.

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(Original Caption) Washington, D. C….Col. Douglas H. Gillette, left, of the Army Engineers Corps, and W. M. Russell, Chief Structural Designer on the White House repair project, hold a pine arc window which was installed in the White House in 1814, and removed during the remodeling project today. The men are seated on what remains of the south portico steps.

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President Barack Obama poses with coach Roy Williams and members of the 2009 NCAA basketball champions University of North Carolina Tar Heels, Monday, May 11, 2009, in front of the South Portico of White House in Washington.

CHARLES DHARAPAK / AP

The renovation project was approved by the Obama administration following a previous update to White House utilities, but was never initiated. The work will be carried out by the General Services Administration, an independent government agency that helps maintain federal office space and oversees historic preservations.

Staff will be relocated to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next door for at least two weeks. They were required to move many of their belongings out of their West Wing offices and “Pods,” full of furniture and personal items, currently line West Executive Avenue next to the White House.

The staff relocation includes a move for the White House Press Office team out of their offices near the White House Briefing Room.

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump’s trip to New Jersey will be the fifth visit to his New Jersey golf club as president. He last visited the golf club three weeks ago, when the U.S. Women’s Open was held on the premises.

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Courtesy of JILLIAN HUGHES, LOUISE DUFRESNE @CBSnews.com

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