US Consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif Moving Forward

The Blue Mosque in Mazar-e Sharif, which is a ...Image via Wikipedia

The US Embassy in Kabul just announced that Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry and the Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta, signed a new agreement under which the United States would lease an historic 1930’s hotel in Mazar-e-Sharif for use as the new U.S. Consulate. Below is the rest of the press release:

This newly-signed lease extends for 9 years and 11 months, with multiple rights to renew in the future. The United States has agreed to invest approximately $26 million to renovate the facility so that it may be used as an office building and housing for consulate employees.

Mazar-e-Sharif is a dynamic commercial center of northern Afghanistan and a gateway to Central Asia. Our decision to place a consulate in Mazar signifies the U.S. Government’s commitment to Northern Afghanistan and our permanent commitment to relations with Afghanistan. Today’s lease signing is the first step in realizing this commitment to Mazar.

I cannot find a confirmation of this, but it looks like the hotel referred to here is the Mazar Hotel. Here is the undated description of the hotel from Lonely Planet:

This is a hotel in an 1930s style, all high ceilings, grand dining rooms and monolithic pillars. It’s a little dusty, giving the impression that it doesn’t see all that many guests, but the swimming pool is popular with local lads in the summer. En suite rooms are a flat price for single or double occupancy, and have the novelty of a bath as well as shower.

Another description from a traveler who stayed at Mazar in 2007:

We are staying at the Mazar Hotel for $50/night. Our room is really a cavernous suite with a bedroom, living room and bath. Our suite is at the end of one of the hotels two long wings. The ceilings must be 15 ft high. It is a huge place built in the 1930 and it doesn’t look like any of the furnishings or fixtures have been changed in all that time. The electrical wiring is screwed up and the fuses keep blowing and there is no hot water. When Arvid makes the long walk to the office to complain the three men dressed like cadres of the Northern Alliance who had been there when we checked in are gone. We are the only guests in the building. There is a large dining room or rather banquet hall but it is closed indefinitely. This place is really strange … it could be a movie set for one of those European art films where there is no dialogue or plot.

TSB of The Skeptical Bureaucrat confirmed that this is the hotel (see comments below). Click here to see the photos.