Crumbling building in Washington, owned by Pakistan, downgraded by US government

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By Webdesk

  • Property designated as Grade 4 due to its deteriorated condition.
  • Building has been vacant for over ten years.
  • Highest bidder offered $6.8 million for real estate.

WASHINGTON: The property rating of a historic building owned by the Pakistan Embassy has been lowered by the District of Columbia government due to its deteriorating condition.

The old, now crumbling building owned by the Pakistani government has been up for sale in recent months. However, the downgrade inevitably also increased taxes on the assessed value of the property.

The local authorities, according to official documents available with The news, have changed the class status of the property, which is located on Washington’s famous R Street. The building used to be a chancery and was auctioned at the end of last year.

The entire bidding process was later canceled by the Pakistani authorities. The highest bidder had bid $6.8 million for the property, which is located in the heart of the city. Pre-auction evaluation of the building “as is” was set at $4.5 million as a benchmark.

The building has been empty for more than ten years. The building’s diplomatic status was also revoked in 2018, making it taxable to the local government.

The property classification, according to building codes here, is shown as:

  • Class 1 – improved residential property that is occupied and used solely for non-transient residential purposes;
  • Class 2 — Commercial Real Estate;
  • Class 3 — Vacancy;
  • Class 4 – Destroyed property.

The official documents from the District of Columbia revealed that as of 2018, the Pakistani government has not received any tax relief for that property. The building was first categorized as Class 2 because it was commercial in 2018 and 2019. It was then placed in Class 3 because it was vacant for three years from 2020 to 2022.

At the end of last month, the building’s property rating was further downgraded and it is now designated Grade 4 due to its deteriorating condition.

The local government’s Department of Buildings determines a building as destroyed if it is unsafe, unsanitary or otherwise determined to threaten the health, safety or general well-being of the community.

The Construction department makes its assessment based on the following factors:

  • Is the building boarded up?
  • Are doors, windows and other openings weatherproof and protected against?
  • Are exterior walls free of holes, graffiti and decaying material?
  • Are all exposed metal and wood surfaces protected from decay by paint or other weather resistant material?
  • Are all balconies, porches, signs, and the like safe and sound?

It is also pertinent to note that Class 3 is taxed at $5 per $100 of assessed value and Class 4 is taxed at $10.00 per $100 of assessed value. The Pakistan Embassy would have to pay more tax on a property that is constantly declining in value.

Not being properly cared for left the building in deteriorating conditions, even though then Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani had authorized the repairs in 2010 through a $7 million loan from the National Bank of Pakistan.

The news contacted the Pakistani embassy for comment, but received no response until the filing of this report.

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