- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 15, 2007

NATURAL BRIDGE, Va. (AP) Must see. Spectacular limestone formation, good condition. Age: about 500 million years. Newer addition may need TLC. Asking $32.5 million.

The owners of Natural Bridge are putting the 215-foot-high landmark on the market, along with 1,600 acres that includes a hotel, gift shop, wax museum, caverns, hiking area and rock formation.

The arched 90-foot-wide span is a national and state historic landmark and is marketed as one of the worlds natural wonders, though it doesnt make current lists. The Rockbridge County site draws about 200,000 visitors a year, according to the Roanoke Times.

The property is being sold because three of the eight owners are in their 80s, not out of financial difficulty, said David Kleppinger, executive director of the Rockbridge Partnership, a regional economic-development group.

“My understanding is theyre at a point in their life that its just time to sell and put the property in someone elses hands,” Mr. Kleppinger said.

Summit Commercial Real Estate in the District and Sperry Van Ness Real Estate, in Lynchburg, Va., are brokering the property, which the sellers have owned for about 18 years.

Sperry Van Ness managing broker Ed Koepenick said the company plans to go public with its listing in two weeks and expects to market it worldwide. He said several parties are interested, but he would not disclose names.

The real-estate firm is also talking to Marriott and other hotel chains, Mr. Koepenick said. The 158-room hotel was built in the 1960s and needs modern upgrades, he said.

Mr. Kleppinger expects the attraction to remain open to the public.

“The only change that we would anticipate is someone will want to do some development of the vacant property,” he said.

Along with undeveloped land, the property includes an abandoned golf course.

The bridge has ties to the countrys early history.

Legend has it that the initials “G.W.” on it were carved by a young George Washington, who surveyed the property in 1750.

The formation was purchased by Thomas Jefferson in 1774 from King George III of England for 20 shillings. That would be about $2.40 for the rock formation and 157 acres of surrounding land.

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