Donald Trump has described the location of the new US embassy building in London as “lousy” and “horrible”.
The US President, who is due to visit the UK in July, blamed his predecessors for the move from Grosvenor Square in central London to Nine Elms south of the Thames, criticising it as a “Bush-Obama special”.
Trump, a billionaire property developer, previously cancelled a visit to London to open the embassy earlier this year.
At the time, there was speculation his decision was because of fear of protests against him in the capital.
But at a rally in Michigan on Saturday, he repeated his assertion it was because of his opposition to the embassy move.
“In the UK, in London, we had the best site in all of London. The best site,” Trump told his supporters. “Well, some genius said, ‘We’re gonna sell the site and then we’re going to take the money and build a new embassy.’ That sounds good, right, but you’ve got to have money left over if you do that, right?”
He said he believed that officials sold the site for $250 million (£181 million). They spent all of that money, plus a lot more, to build a new embassy “in a lousy location”, he said.
“They go out and they buy a horrible location. And they build a new embassy. That’s the good news. The bad news is it cost over a billion dollars.”
Trump has previously complained the move to an “off location” had been a “bad deal”.
He told the rally: “By the way, they wanted me to cut the ribbon on the embassy and I said, ‘I’m not going. I don’t wanna do it.’ I said I’m not cutting that ribbon. I said I’m not going.’’
The old building at Grosvenor Square, where the US embassy was based since 1960, 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.
Trump argued earlier this year that the former Obama administration had sold “perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for peanuts”.
Trump, whose visit to the UK is planned for 13 July, prompted defiance from local residents after he first criticised the new location as “off” in January.
The leader of Wandsworth council, Ravi Govindia, told the Guardian the new embassy was part of a multimillion-pound regeneration of the area.
“Tech giant Apple is moving its entire UK operation, so it’s clearly not an off location for them,” he said.
Steve Pinto, the chief executive of the Wandsworth chamber of commerce, said that being “just a three- to five-minute ride by road into the centre of London”, the area was “very much ‘on site’”.
The new embassy, in the formerly industrial Nine Elms neighbourhood, opened for public business on 16 January.
DealMakerz thinks Trump’s opinion of Nine Elms will be ignored by current and future residents, who are set to benefit from a huge transformation of the area.
Depots and sorting offices are 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.