Washington HQ deal abandoned

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 July, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 July, 1996, 12:00am

RED tape has forced the Government to pull out of a deal to buy a grand new headquarters in Washington and start searching for another property.

Hong Kong's Economics and Trade Minister in the US capital, Chris Jackson, said 'serious problems' had forced officials to drop plans to buy a historic building just off Washington's Embassy Row.

Negotiations have begun for a similar but smaller building nearby.

Mr Jackson said the Government decided that the legal differences of opinion between itself and a medical clinic currently on the Massachusetts Avenue site meant the sale would probably take too long.

It is believed price-haggling and zoning problems may also have slowed the deal.

Mr Jackson said it had been decided to abandon that deal and put in a bid on a nearby building, which is vacant and should be available much sooner.

Mr Jackson declined to disclose the new site, but said it was also in the classic architectural style of many of the city's embassies.

He hoped to have the property ready before the handover, so celebrations could be held. It is expected to cost about US$3 million (HK$23.2 million), but requires a large outlay on renovation.

'Given our status as a trading power, I think it is appropriate that we have a building in our biggest market which the people of Washington will take seriously,' he said.