Donald Trump has cancelled his planned visit to the UK in February because he is not a “big fan” of the new US embassy.
The US president had been expected to cut the ribbon on the $1 billion (£738 million) embassy, which is moving from Mayfair to south London.
He blamed Barack Obama’s administration for a “bad deal” despite the fact the move was confirmed in October 2008 when President George W Bush was still in the White House.
The Grosvenor Square site was deemed too small to put in the modern security it needed.
US officials said it would have cost hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade security at the older building and bring it up to modern safety standards.
But Trump argued the former Obama administration had sold “perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for peanuts”.
He also criticised the location of the new building in Vauxhall, south London, as an “off location”, adding: “Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!”
Ambassador Robert Tuttle, who led the search for a new site, said: “We looked at all our options, including renovation of our current building on Grosvenor Square. In the end, we realised that the goal of a modern, secure and environmentally sustainable embassy could best be met by constructing a new facility.”
The new embassy, in the formerly industrial Nine Elms neighbourhood, opens for public business today (16 January).
The former embassy was acquired for an undisclosed price by Qatar’s global real estate investment and development firm, Qatari Diar.
Last September, Rosewood Hotels said it had been named by the firm to manage the converted building as an “ultra-luxury hotel”.
The project will become Rosewood’s second hotel in London and its sixth in Europe. Grosvenor Square is a mile west of the company’s existing property, The Rosewood London, in High Holborn near Covent Garden.
Many observers think the real reason Trump cancelled his visit was his concern about massive protests in the capital.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who has clashed with the president in the past, said Trump had “got the message” that many Londoners were staunchly opposed to his policies and actions.
Others suggested the president was unimpressed by the low key nature of the proposed trip, or simply does not see the UK as a priority.
Trump accepted the Queen’s invitation for an official state visit when the prime minister met him last year. A petition calling for the invitation to be withdrawn was signed by more than 1.8 million people, and the issue was also debated in parliament.
Downing Street is said to be considering options for the visit later in the year, according to the BBC.
It is now thought that the ribbon-cutting ceremony will be hosted by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
DealMakerz thinks the new embassy further demonstrates Nine Elms’ exciting future, regardless of Trump’s refusal to pay a visit.
The area from Vauxhall to Battersea is being transformed, with depots and sorting offices being turned into luxury apartments.
The Northern Line extension to Battersea Power Station is set to open in 2020, and Vauxhall’s gallery cluster will be brought further in reach when the proposed Nine Elms Pimlico Bridge is completed.