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Wanna buy an embassy?

The State Department's "excess property" ranges from the extraordinary to the infamous.

Published May 1, 2007


WASHINGTON - Looking for a stately home or opulent office overseas? One in a posh neighborhood or overlooking an exotic capital? Maybe with a glorious or infamous past? The U.S. government may have a deal for you.

From Kinshasa to Katmandu, Bangkok to Bogota, U.S. embassies, ambassadorial residences and other diplomatic digs are up for sale as the State Department moves its employees to more secure locations, upgrades facilities and combines operations in multipurpose compounds.

Some 29 properties worth more than $205-million are now on the market in 21 countries, including a huge and historic embassy annex in the heart of London, large chancery buildings in Panama, Nicaragua and Nepal and homes fit for envoys in Belize and Venezuela.

A magnificent manse in the steamy Indonesian capital of Jakarta is also for sale.

With an asking price of $180-million, the immense former Navy Annex fronting Grosvenor Square in London's Mayfair district is probably beyond most budgets. Ditto for the old U.S. Embassy in Nepal, $6-million, described as a "grand colonial estate."

But more modest accommodations - apartments and single-family houses once occupied by junior embassy officers in Peru and Poland - are available, too, to say nothing of commercial and industrial space in Congo, Cameroon, Mali and Thailand.

All have been declared "excess property" and listed for sale with private real estate brokers by the State Department's Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations, which manages more than 3, 500 U.S. government properties in 193 countries.

In search of a fixer-upper? The former U.S. ambassador's residence in Libya can be yours for a cool $1.5-million, marked down from its multimillion-dollar estimated market value because of damage it sustained in anti-American riots and demonstrations throughout the 1980s and '90s.

"Internal renovation is needed, " the department's prospectus on the house says, omitting reference to the gangs of rock-throwing protesters that once gathered outside and the 26-year rupture in diplomatic ties between Washington and Tripoli from 1980 to 2006.

But buyer beware. There are "title issues" to be worked out between the State Department and Libyan government despite the recent thaw in relations, the prospectus says.

[Last modified May 1, 2007, 01:45:22]

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