In Washington, new embassy nears completion

The Latvian diplomatic corps in Washington, D.C., soon may be moving into its new embassy, while the ambassador soon may be getting a new residence.

Work on the new Embassy of Latvia, to be located in the Barney Studio House at 2306 Massachusetts Ave., has spanned four years and has involved a number of roadblocks as Latvian officials have sought approval from the city government and local residents.

But now most of the remodeling work is completed and the embassy staff may be able to move into the building in the next few weeks, an embassy spokesperson told Latvians Online.

President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, who recently accepted an invitation to be guest of honor at the U.S.-Baltic Foundation gala scheduled March 4 in Washington, may also preside at a ceremony marking the opening of the new embassy.

The Latvian government paid USD 2.5 million for the new embassy building in November 2001, according to District of Columbia property records. The assessed value of the Embassy Row property is now listed at USD 4.1 million.

The new embassy will replace the current facility, a converted single-family house at 4325 17th St. N.W. in the Crestwood neighborhood of the District of Columbia. That property, which has served as the embassy since 1991 and before then for decades was the Latvian Legation, was purchased in 1953 by the Latvian government in exile.

The old embassy, the spokesperson said, is expected to be sold.

Meanwhile, embassy officials are searching for a new residence for the ambassador.

Latvia’s Council of Ministers on Nov. 22 approved a measure allowing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to spend up to USD 2.6 million to buy the new residence. The Latvian government currently spends USD 69,600 annually to rent the ambassador’s residence. According to the ministry, it will be more cost-effective to buy a home.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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