A deal to buy the Anchorage Legislative Information Office building for $28 million is officially off the table.
Rep. Mike Hawker, an Anchorage Republican, made the announcement early Thursday morning, at a six-minute meeting of the Legislative Council.
“While I believe that the Anchorage LIO proposal speaks for itself on its own merits, I do recognize that the events of the past two weeks have proven that some legislators do not have time to become sufficiently comfortable with the proposal,” Hawker said.
Hawker’s plan would have only purchased the building – not the land beneath it, or the parking facility. The state would have still been on the hook to rent those facilities from the developer at a cost of $1.4 million.
With the purchase option now dead, the Legislature will instead lease the building for $4 million annually, as part of a 10-year agreement.
That agreement has come under public criticism because it more than quadruples the rate the Legislature is currently paying for the building, as a result of renovations that are now underway.
Sen. Peter Micciche, a Soldotna Republican who also has a leadership role on the Council, characterized the LIO situation as an “inherited problem” that has left the Legislature with few good alternatives.
“I think it’s clear that none of us are comfortable with where we are. None of us are comfortable with this deal. It’s expensive,” Micciche said. “But here are the facts: That LIO houses half the Legislature for three quarter of the year – nine months of the years – in the area with the most expensive real estate in the state.”
Earlier this week, the Senate President Charlie Huggins told reporters he would like to pursue the possibility of a one-year lease and reconsider the purchase of the building during the next legislative session.