Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson said today that the old Alaska Club building on Tudor Road is no longer part of the municipality’s plan for housing homeless and vagrants in Anchorage.
“The due diligence process uncovered costs above what was previously estimated, , including roof replacement, plumbing repairs, and foundation damage. When combined with estimated costs for renovation of the space to accommodate day and overnight use, these required repairs would significantly raise the cost of the project. Thus, the MOA concluded that acquisition would not be in the best interest of the municipality, given the increased price tag,” she wrote.
The funds for the purchase of buildings for housing and services for homeless and vagrants is coming largely from the CARES Act grant the municipality received from the federal government through the State of Alaska. The plan was hatched under former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, who resigned in disgrace in October.
“The administration promised to the Assembly and the public to conduct a thorough due diligence process, and only move forward if the deal penciled out for Anchorage taxpayers,” said Acting Mayor Quinn-Davidson. “We are keeping that promise.”
She noted that more people are experiencing homelessness since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Anchorage still faces an acute and long-term need for additional shelter space.
Over the objections of much of the public, the Anchorage Assembly this summer approved the purchase of the Alaska Club building, the Golden Lion Hotel near 36th and New Seward Highway; America’s Best Hotel in Spenard; and Bean’s Cafe downtown.
The Alaska Club purchase was to come from $22 million of money from the federal government meant to help communities cope with the economic effects of COVID-19.
The public’s objection included the fact that the municipality was skirting the Planning and Zoning Commission, putting vagrant and drug addiction services into neighborhoods in violation of current zoning.
The mayor’s actions may be also in response to current recall efforts against her, Assembly Chair Felix Rivera, and Assembly members Meg Zalatel, Kameron Perez-Diaz. Those recall efforts came after the Assembly approved the vagrant plan.