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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Pakistan Embassy’s run-down building in the heart of DC

The mystery surrounding the neglected Pakistan Embassy building in Washington DC, raising questions about its condition and future.

The Pakistan Embassy building in Washington D.C. has been in the news recently due to a notice that was pasted on its front door. The notice, which had been issued by the Building Enforcement Unit of the Department of Buildings (BOD), Washington, deemed the property to be blighted and asked the owners, the Pakistan Embassy, to submit a blighted building response form within 30 days or face reclassification. The notice warned that removing the notice without authorization could lead to a fine of $500. The building, which used to be a chancery, has been unoccupied for over a decade and had its diplomatic status revoked in 2018, making it liable to pay taxes to the local government.

Put Up for Sale

The building, located on R-Street NW in the heart of Washington D.C., was put up for auction late last year, but the bidding process was later cancelled by Pakistani authorities under pressure from the Pakistani American community. Many community members claimed that they were willing to offer a lot more than the highest bid of $6.8 million for the property, which was evaluated at $4.5 million on an “as is” basis by earlier media reports. The building has received offers much below the prevalent price in this neighbourhood, and its declassification will further reduce its market value while increasing taxes on its assessed value.

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Building’s Condition

Its condition has been a matter of concern for the local government for some time. In 2008, a Washington Post report on blighted properties in Washington listed the building as having “paint-peeled columns and boarded-up windows.” The building was also listed in a letter by a State Department official to the local government as one of several buildings owned by foreign countries, including Pakistan and Argentina, that had lost diplomatic protections. A 2018 report in the Washingtonian magazine noted that “a 1906 Beaux Arts beauty, the onetime embassy of Pakistan has been vacant for about a decade — and it shows. A demolition notice hangs to the left of the front door. Some windows are broken, while others are covered with cobwebs.”

Response from Pakistan Embassy Officials

When contacted by Dawn, officials at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington stated that they had not seen the notice and could not say when or why it was removed. However, the disappearance of the notice has raised questions about the building’s future and the intentions of its owners. The Pakistan Embassy has not made any statement regarding the building’s status or the notice that was pasted on its front door.

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The run-down condition of the Pakistan Embassy building in Washington D.C. has been a matter of concern for the local government for some time. Combined with its declassification, will further reduce its market value while increasing taxes on its assessed value. The Pakistani American community has expressed interest in acquiring the property, but it remains to be seen whether the Pakistan Embassy will reconsider its decision to cancel the auction and sell the building to the highest bidder.