45 days later, a proposal with few details on LIO building

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Tuesday was the deadline set by the Legislative Council to figure out what to do with the controversial lease on the Legislative Information Office in downtown Anchorage.

In December, the council set a 45 day limit to decide whether or not to break a 10 year lease with the building’s owner, 716 West Fourth Avenue, LLC, comprised of developers Bob Acree and Marc Pfeffer. As of Tuesday, the office of Kodiak Republican Senator Gary Stevens, who chairs of the council, said it received a proposal relevant to the considerations over the lease. Stevens’s office declined to specify what those materials entail, but said they expect to release more information later in the week.

The course of action is laid out in the proposal is not yet public. A representative for the developers, Amy Slinker, wrote in a statement Tuesday, “Out of respect for the Legislative Council process, we are not able to share specifics of the proposal.”

Senator Stevens could convene the Legislative Council to discuss the proposal as early as next week. The council’s recommendation to the full body of lawmakers has the potential to shape what happens to the LIO building and tens of millions of dollars in state funds.

Critics say the lease deal was inappropriately negotiated and profits the development company at the expense of taxpayers. The developer says the lease agreement was approved by lawmakers at a below-market rate in 2013, and that legislators are now reneging in a tougher economic climate.

The LIO building is also at the heart of a lawsuit brought forward by a neighboring business. In her statement, Slinker wrote that conversations with Senator Stevens “appear likely to result in the dismissal of the lawsuit.” Reached for comment about the terms of that potential dismissal, the plaintiff in the case, Anchorage attorney Jim Gottstein said simply, “We’ll see,” and declined to elaborate.

The future of the LIO lease is pegged to a budget appropriation. Other options proposed include moving the legislative operations to the state-owned Atwood building, abiding by the original terms of the lease, or buying the building outright.