Anchorage’s parking boss quits in rift with city, after pandemic hits revenues

A street with some colorful buildings
Fourth Avenue in Downtown Anchorage, Alaska in early December, 2019. (Joey Mendolia/Alaska Public Media)

The head of the organization that oversees Anchorage’s downtown parking abruptly resigned Friday, in what appears to be a split with city officials after the pandemic caused a large drop in revenue. 

Andrew Halcro, executive director of the Anchorage Community Development Authority and a former state legislator, announced his resignation Friday morning, effective immediately.

Andrew Halcro. (Photo by Josh Edge, APRN - Anchorage)
Andrew Halcro (Josh Edge/Alaska Public Media)

In a scathing letter to Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson, Halcro wrote that he could no longer lead the organization after a “pattern of bad faith dealings” with the municipality.  

Halcro, in his letter, accused Quinn-Davidson’s administration of removing the ACDA’s board chair, Terry Parks, and of not following through on a deal to exchange $5.7 million for ACDA’s ownership stake in the Anchorage Police Department headquarters building.

Halcro also called members of Quinn-Davidson’s administration “destructive and untrustworthy.”

“For eight months, including the last five you have been mayor, your staff who work a combined 150 steps from your desk, have been making million dollar promises about relief,” he wrote. “But they didn’t deliver.”

In an emailed statement, Quinn-Davidson acknowledged that ACDA has faced financial challenges due to the pandemic. 

“My team has worked closely with Mr. Halcro and ACDA to address its financial challenges, and we were making progress together despite challenging circumstances,” she said.

She added that Parks’ removal as board chair was made as part of a larger effort to ensure that city boards and commissions “better reflect the diversity of our community.” The municipality declined to comment further.

ACDA is a public corporation that oversees downtown parking and developments like the Glenn Square Retail Center in Anchorage’s Mountain View neighborhood.

It functions independently from the city, but the executive director is appointed by the Anchorage mayor and the board includes members of the municipality and the Anchorage Assembly. Halcro was appointed by former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz in 2015, and was previously planning to leave his job in June after a new mayor was elected.

ACDA, meanwhile, has been hit hard by the pandemic, according to Melinda Gant, its director of community development and external affairs. Parking is the organization’s primary source of income, and with fewer people visiting downtown, Gant said ACDA’s revenue dipped between 50% and 60% last year.

The organization also cut its staff in half, from 49 to 22.

“We have been in a mode of laying off, because we are not able to pay our employees. So, we had to quickly look at how we can cut expenses,” Gant said. She added that ACDA has not received any COVID-19 relief money from the municipality or the federal government, because it’s a public corporation.

Despite its “shoestring budget,” Gant said there has been no impact to parking services. She said ACDA is hopeful that once the city’s emergency orders are fully lifted, more people will park their cars in downtown Anchorage and revenues will rise again.

It was not immediately clear who would fill Halcro’s job.