A demolition permit has been issued for the 77-year-old 4th Avenue Theater in Anchorage. The building, whose construction started in 1941, is owned by Peach Investments of California, which is also owner of nearby properties. The company bought it during a foreclosure in 2009.
The permit allows for complete demolition down to the building’s foundation, and was issued this week.
In 2017, the Alaska Historical Commission unanimously voted that the theater was of “significant to Alaska historic and cultural heritage.” The theater is on the National Register of Historic Places. But it’s up to the current owners’ and a building like this would cost more to refurbish than to demolish.
Those who have tried to preserve the theater have had no luck raising the funds to do so. In 2011, the Rasmuson Foundation awarded a grant to help restore the building, but later rescinded the grant after the Anchorage Assembly decided to not guarantee a loan that would have made restoration possible.
Then, when the Great Recession hit Alaska, private investment dried up and the building has become somewhat of a urinal for homeless people downtown.
The theater was designed by B. Marcus Priteca and Seattle architect A.A. Porreca. In the Art Deco style, it contained silver and gold murals and a depiction of the Big Dipper on the ceiling. The fate of those large and unwieldy murals is uncertain, as they would have to be moved somewhere, at great cost.
The company tried to get a demolition permit from the city in 2016, but was denied.
Peach Investments is owned by Joe and Maria Fang of San Francisco. Originally, the company had planned to incorporate the old theater into a complex that included shopping, parking structure and other attractions.