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British Fund to Sell Watergate Hotel

From Associated Press

The Watergate Hotel, which earned a place in history because of the 1972 Democratic Party headquarters burglary, is for sale.

The British Coal Board has put the 237-room hotel up for sale, along with the lease it holds on an office building in the Watergate complex, the land under three cooperative apartment buildings there and retail space in the Watergate shopping mall.

Pension fund officials said Wednesday they want to pull out of the U.S. real estate market because growth prospects are better in other countries.

Wendy Luscombe, president of Pan American Properties Inc. and Buckingham Holdings Inc., the American companies that manage the fund’s holdings, would not comment on the asking price. Her office said the sale was part of a $1-billion portfolio. Estimates for the complex, which was completed in 1965, have ranged from $28 million to $71 million.

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The break-in at the sixth-floor offices of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate Office Building next door to the hotel made the complex something of a landmark and the name of the site also became the name of the nation’s biggest political scandal.

G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt, employees of President Richard M. Nixon’s 1972 reelection committee and masterminds of the burglary, waited in their room in the hotel while the break-in was being carried out. Nixon’s resignation was forced two years later because of White House efforts to cover up involvement in the burglary.

“It has historic value,” said Stephen J. Wayne, a Georgetown University professor of government.

The British pension fund’s U.S. portfolio, valued at nearly $1 billion, includes 10 shopping centers, two shopping malls and office buildings in New York City and San Francisco.

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