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Developer sells historic natural landmark to conservation fund

Friday - 2/7/2014, 4:36pm  ET

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- A 215-foot-high stone bridge once owned by Thomas Jefferson, a centuries-old tourist attraction, has been sold by its private owner at a fraction of its value to a conservation group.

Natural Bridge is destined to become part of Virginia's park system.

Under a complex deal sealed today in Washington, D.C., real estate developer Angelo Puglisi accepted $8.6 million for the 1,500-plus-acre property in southwest Virginia. The land includes the 90-foot-long limestone bridge. Puglisi will receive tax credits for the bridge, which is valued at $21 million. The property, in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, includes a hotel and cabins.

Once the Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund repays the loan it used to pay Puglisi, the attraction will be transferred to Virginia as a state park. That could occur as early as 2015.

George Washington surveyed the property, and Jefferson called it "the most Sublime of Nature's Work."

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