Fourth Avenue Theater - Demo permit issued - Must Read Alaska
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Monday, August 26, 2019
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Fourth Avenue Theater – Demo permit issued

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 In 2011, the Rasmuson Foundation awarded a grant to help restore the building, but later rescinded the grant after the Anchorage Assembly decided to not guarantee a loan that would have made restoration possible.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.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Hate to see her go. Hopefully some of the architectural features and woodwork can be salvaged. Cap Lathrop would be heart broken if some parts of the building were not salvaged.

  • What a waste of historical goodies. They should have taken the interior
    and made a very cool room in the Denina center. With a stage and screen it would have been an awesome meeting room.

    I would have put a plethora of vintage photos on all the walls as well. I would have refurbed the exterior sign and placed it in the centers interior, outside the ” 4rth Ave Room “.

    All the cool stuff would have been saved for future generations , and provide an awesome room for parties, meetings, etc.Very ornate and screaming vintage class.

    The building is a ratty shell. Its like a bad frame holding a great painting. Strip the beauty and demo the dilapidated shell. Put the goodies somewhere and have a Vegas type build a great room around it.

    If it all goes to the dump it would be a real shame. I would love to go to company parties in a room that mimicked the theatre, but with tables. You just can’t duplicate real nostalgia,
    its usually way more classy than the current design trend of pc plastic blandness.

    • Just takes money.

  • Fairbanks needs the Polaris Building razed……….immediately.

  • So sad! We went to movies there…hate to see it demolished ☹️

  • what a shame, I went with my dad every weekend, fond memories. cherie kellogg

  • I’m heartbroken! I was at that theater during the 1964 earthquake! That structure later was discovered to be one of the safest buildings in town during an earthquake. We should have stayed in it but went outside and hung onto a parking meter through the whole thing. What an iconic building with so many memories.

  • If you feel strongly about keeping this iconic structure for future generations THEN DO SOMETHING. Call Peachtree, call Rasmussen Foundation. Lobby real estate investment friends. Just don’t sit there.

  • So stupid. So much potential. This city wants people to come, stay, live, work, play. But there is a constant suppression of any kind of creative vital architecture and urban planning that would attract people to visit, or move here, or want to stay. Go ahead and tear down the only interesting and historic building in downtown Anchorage. Gahhh.

  • I really hope they find a place for those murals… I remember going to the movies there and seeing those lights on the ceiling among the murals twinkling like stars! it will be a sad day.

  • This is a symptom. The problem is that Alaska is a colony. Most of the wealth created here leaves immediately or eventually. The 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle serves as good contrast. In 1979 Ned Skinner led a group of 43 local investors to rehabilitate it. Ironically, the Skinners made a lot of their money in Alaska (including Pepsi, NC Machine, Alaska Steamship, canneries) and because they lived in Seattle and were civic minded did a lot of good things there, including building the Space Needle, starting the Seahawks and much more. The Fangs model is agnostic. Maybe they do have civic priorities – in San Francisco or Hong Kong. In contrast Alaskans’ priority is the PFD. That will make everything great. In the long run what wins, the Fangs or PFD?

  • Gee whiz! What’s this? A bunch of blue-blood Bostonian liberals now read Suzanne Downing? It is a junk old building – for crying in the sink! It’s a place where nothing of significance ever happened! “Preserving” it would require an expenditure of more of my scarce tax money extracted from my wallet by the extremist “progressives” now running Anchorage with the only skill they possess – extortion! Couldn’t we at least save our broken hearts and crocodile tears for the the “opiate crisis” or such?