A downtown office-building fraught with political controversy could soon be owned by an Anchorage development authority.
The glassy, modern building at 716 West 4th avenue was rebuilt at the request of state lawmakers to upgrade the Anchorage Legislative Information Office. But the deal came under criticism, leading to a lawsuit, and legislators ultimately abandoning the site in favor of an office suite above a midtown bank.
Now, the Anchorage Community Development Authority is seeking to buy the building.
“Legally it’s not a done deal,” Melinda Gant said. Gant is a spokeswoman for ACDA, which manages revenues from parking facilities and redevelopment projects for the municipality. According to Gant, ACDA has kept an eye on the vacant property since legislators walked away from it in 2016.
“We see this as prime real-estate. So we jumped on it,” Gant said. “We want to see it as earning some revenue for ACDA with a tenant that we’re going to bring in (at) market rate.”
It’s not clear yet who that tenant might be. The building has a unique open design combined with offices that were built specially to accommodate the needs of the legislature and local constituents. No one is presently lined up.
According to the development agreement, ACDA will pay $14 million plus closing costs to Everbank, which currently owns the building. That’s far below the $37 million price lawmakers originally agreed to pay before the sale turned politically toxic and was deemed unlawful by a judge.
ACDA is putting down a parking garage on 7th Avenue as collateral, and potentially a parking lot on 3rd Avenue and C Street, as well, in order to pay for the new building. The organization has already made a cash deposit, and is aggressively trying to ensure the sale goes through.
“The agency could risk losing the deposit, so we are very serious about moving forward with the purchase of this building,” Gant said.
The sale still has to go up for public testimony and be approved by the Anchorage Assembly. Gant estimates that if everything proceeds on time, the deal could be done in three months.