Mayor Bronson says Golden Lion Hotel will likely be claimed by State of Alaska DOT for highway improvements

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While liberal Anchorage Assembly members are pressuring the Mayor’s Office to use the Golden Lion hotel property to house homeless people, the mayor says that the Alaska Department of Transportation is going to take the property via emminent domain, in all likelihood, to improve traffic patterns at 36th Avenue and New Seward Highway.

Former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz purchased the Golden Lion for $9 million in 2020, but it sat empty throughout the term of interim Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson, and has remained unused since Mayor Dave Bronson took office.

Using that location for homeless or inebriates and drug addicts has been unpopular with midtown Anchorage residents, who cite many safety concerns, such as the likelihood that the nearby Helen McDowell Sanctuary will become a homeless hideout and encampment. The Anchorage Jewish community has said in the past that the proximity to its preschool is also a safety concern.

Mayor Bronson submitted a letter to the Assembly that was sent to him by Alaska DOT, saying that there is a “high likelihood” that DOT will need that property. He said the project and the property was scored by DOT staff in 2018 and was the highest scoring project on Alaska’s National Highway System due to safety concerns.

“The [COT] letter states that this is one of the busiest and highest crash rate intersections in the Municipality of Anchorage, bicyclists and pedestrians report that it is difficult to cross the highway, and users report a general lack of east-west connectivity in the area. The Anchorage Assembly has brought up these same issues in other parts of town in dealing with bicyclists and pedestrians with traffic. The letter from DOT&PF states that planned improvements include grade separations, highway ramps, non-motorized facilities, and new frontage roads connecting Tudor Road to 36th Avenue,” according to the Mayor’s Office.

“The DOT&PF letter goes on to state that all project alternatives being evaluated show an impact to the Golden Lion Hotel property, which means there is a “high likelihood” that the result will be a total take of the property. DOT&PF also stated that they have communicated to the Municipality of Anchorage’s previous administration (Acting Mayor Quinn-Davidson), that the parking area adjacent to the highway was permitted to the previous owner of the Golden Lion and that permit was non-transferrable and was in fact terminated when the property was acquired by the Municipality of Anchorage. DOT&PF says it will not be issuing any future permits for those parking spaces as that property will be required for the Seward Highway & 36th Avenue project,” the mayor said.

Members of the Assembly appear unmoved and said that if the State takes the property, that would be years away, and meanwhile they want it used for the purpose for which it was purchased by Berkowitz, who left office in a scandal shortly after purchasing the hotel.

DOT in 2020 sent interim Mayor Quinn-Davidson a similar letter to the one sent to Mayor Bronson in 2022, stating that the property’s parking lot would likely become part of the reconstruction of the intersection. Without the parking lot, the building would not be usable for any commercial purpose. The DOT said, in its letter to Quinn-Davidson, that it was discontinuing the building’s permit for encroachment on the DOT right of way.

But Bronson said it makes no sense to invest more into the building that will probably be torn down in a few years: “After consultation from the  Department of Law based off of this new information from the DOT&PF to eventually take the Golden Lion Hotel property, it does not make sense to set up a treatment facility in a location that will be taken away. As part of due diligence, my administration is supporting the opening of treatment centers with Providence and Salvation Army in the near future and evaluating other locations and possible options to address substance misuse treatment and current community needs.” 

The Berkowitz Administration signed a legal agreement during the sale of Municipal Light & Power to Chugach Electric Association that says Anchorage will need to spent $15 million on a treatment center by the year 2025. If the city doesn’t fulfill that promise, the Muni will need to pay Providence Hospital $15 million. The agreement happened because Providence intervened in the sale and made that demand, which the Regulatory Commission of Alaska approved.

39 COMMENTS

  1. If the property is an empty hotel, why not use it this winter (and maybe next) to house homeless folks? The Municipality is scrambling to figure out a housing plan (like where will the modular housing units be placed–and get connected to utilities) and this empty hotel already has all of these needed facilities. It’s just ridiculous to ignore an empty hotel the Municipality owns when the Muni is trying to find housing! DOT&PF won’t be demolishing this property for several more years–after it completes its public planning and environmental reviews, and completes detailed engineering design. What a farce it is for the Mayor’s office to point fingers at the Assembly constantly instead of taking reasonable action to address the current situation.

    • Why do we have to house anybody? These people are ambulatory and able bodied enough to put in 8-10 hour shifts panhandling, they’re strong enough to push grocery carts full of stolen goods around from pawn shop to pawn shop. Cut the strings. No more free rides! These problem people will be gone by spring.

        • In your mind is Mr. Rasta the decider of who lives and who dies?

          How about this…

          Wait until we have a stretch of -20f for a week or two and announce a coupon based free hooch extravaganza. As successful as you must be you could fund it. The program offers public inebriates, drug addicts and all other known miscreants the opportunity to spend the rest of their lives loaded which is a win / win in any book. If you like the idea consider getting a ton of your parasitic friends together and electing me to the Anchorage Assembly. It’s the perfect place for someone with the kind of progressive ideas I have and I guarantee the free hooch program even if I have to foot the bill absent your no doubt burgeoning coffers. I also guarantee safer streets and sidewalks the following month.

          Blended margarita stations and grande’ glasses all over Anchorage. Even one close to your tent, Lucinda. Con sal por favor, idiota! I’ll name a special section of urine stained sidewalk in your honor. Tell me where sounds good. How about that special rutting spot on the SE corner of Minnesota and No Lights? All yours… just say the word.

    • If anyone going to be staying at the golden lion, the muni ought to make some money charging 650 a month for rent managed by realty and onsite property manager plus security. Anchorage employed singles including working single parents would likely like such simple affordable short-term housing. The muni can at least get a return.

  2. All the money they spend on the homeless that perpetuates the entire problem..
    Don’t feed the bears. Unless you want them to stick around.
    Well, that is our ” Homeless Industrial Complex ” at work.

  3. The answer to the question of utilizing the Golden Lion Hotel as a temporary shelter this winter is obvious to anyone who has actually been paying attention to the issue and not just spouting clueless rhetoric. The property in its current condition is not suitable for housing anyone, there are $$$ worth of repairs and other remodeling efforts that need to be completed prior to being ready to be used as a treatment center or shelter of any sort. If the building is going to eventually be taken by the DOT, then it makes zero fiscal sense to spend money on it, only to not get our money’s worth out of it’s use. Nothing like throwing good money after bad. It’s always easier to spend “Other People’s Money”, especially when you are a liberal…

    • If you don’t spend the money there,they will miss out on all that sweet,sweet graft and waysto funnel our tax dollars to their union cronies and donors

    • The hotel had people living in it when we bought it. They had to move out because we bought it
      2 yrs later it’s not good enough for bums that live outside in squalor?
      Just put em in there for the winter & let the do gooders feed them

      • Correct.
        It wouldn’t cost a dime tom get it good enough for occupation.
        But, on principle…
        I am tired of my money being STOLEN to give to people making huge salaries in the name of good-will.

  4. And using the rec centers makes perfect sense. Let’s put elementary kids at risk as Northwood school is next door to Spenard rec. what possibly go wrong.

  5. We’ll at least it’ll go from Not being on the tax roll to Not being on the tax roll. Thanks Berkowitz.
    For the naysayers…. They’re just unable to realize that enabling only gives you more of the same x 10. And/or have a financial gain from the proliferation of more homelessness.

  6. What in the world is the city doing buying a defunct hotel? Spending $9,000,000 of taxpayer money to buy real estate. I am stunned. What is wrong with people? Those who made such a decision really belong in jail. Of course I am aware that his doesn’t just happen in Anchorage. Disgusting and astounding.

  7. Sorry folks! You can clean it up all you want, Fluff it, Give the homeless nice hotels, Sullivan Arena, Nice campgrounds.
    You all trying to hide the issue. Mental, drugs, society issues? It’s not holding.

    Until we manage and get a real grasp on what is going on, Will you come
    to a solution!

    I’m sorry, But some really like to live this gypsy way.

  8. I’d really like to see the “legal agreement” signed by Berkowitz between Chugach Electric and ML&P concerning a treatment facility. WHY would a Municipality agree that it’s electric utility will pay a $15M payout to Providence Hospital by 2025?? That just doesn’t make sense. AND, does the Regulatory Commission even have the authority to approve such an agreement? What does PROV have to do with Electric Utilities and the Muni of Anchorage? Keep digging, Suzanne!

    • Providence joined the legal fray on the sale of ML&P, and as one of the largest power users in the city, set forth demands. The RCA capitulated. – sd

  9. And While everyone is arguing about the homeless, the Golden Lion has remained empty since 2020. I can
    see the person who owned the Golden Lion laughing with his $9 million all the way to the bank. Does this Assembly ever solve any problems or work together with the Mayor? I don’t see it. Wonder whose pockets got lined with the sale of this property. Just wondering..

  10. The last paragraph is the most concerning. I still don’t understand, though..how is it that if the Muni doesn’t spend 15 million $ on a treatment facility, Prov gets the 15 million? Is Prov going to use the 15 million to start it’s own treatment facility, or what?
    And who the heck is on the RCA? This smells like a soggy bag of moldy, rotten tomatoes…

  11. If I am reading this correctly, the prior mayor and the current assembly took 9 million taxpayer dollars and purchased this structure knowing of the DOT right of way and knowing of their intentions to use it. What a sweet deal for the previous owner; is it someone we know? I think in a normal society that there would be a fraud investigation and several indictments.

    • Bingo! Follow the money!
      I had exactly the same impression. Since it has been known since 2018 that this property will be part of the highway expansion and the state will take it over, why did Berkowitz and friends buy it? Who benefited?
      It appears Providence has had a comfy, cozy relationship with the Berkowitz administration throughout the pandemic, but it seems that this is a longstanding arrangement. That part of the deal never made the paper or was publicized in any way. Now it becomes clear how the “property tax reducing” ML&P sale proceeds have been frittered away and again the taxpayers are left holding the bag….

      • It’s really hard to believe that they have the power to just spend 9million on magic beans, grant themselves absolute power and install a polite authoritarian mayor all in the same year.
        seems to me the entire muni needs to be defanged a bit.

    • Just poking around the ‘Net for a couple minutes we can easily find that at least a couple of the assembly members might be in fine position to line their own pockets at the expense of taxpayers while they continue to grow the Bum Industrial Complex:

      ‘https://www.muni.org/Departments/Assembly/pages/about%20us%20-%20member%20profiles.aspx

      “Christopher is a licensed real estate agent as well as a Grants and Contracts Director for a statewide nonprofit substance abuse and behavioral health treatment provider.”

      ‘https://aceh.org/the-anchorage-coalition-to-end-homelessness-welcomes-meg-zaletel-as-executive-director

      “The Board of Directors is proud to announce Meg Zaletel as Executive Director. Meg Zaletel has guided the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness (ACEH) as Interim Executive Director since November of 2021.”

      Gotta wonder if the rest of the subversives on the assembly just take some sick glee in destroying what was once a nice place to live and/or if they’re feeding at the trough as well…

      • I’m not surprised that Mr. Constant and Ms. Zaletel would both be involved in a conflict of interest wherein they’re taking advantage of Anchorage taxpayers to enhance their station That’s disgusting. How is it that Anchorage taxpayers elect representatives bereft of moral compass? It’s not like they shouldn’t have known.

        What role did Constant have in the Golden Lion transaction? That’s reprehensible behavior and an actionable offense.

  12. This can’t be allowed to happen.
    .
    Goodness knows how many “folks”, living and dead, might be registered to vote at that address.

    • In Portland there are a number of parasitic industries that hang off of the bums. There’s a bus that cruises around and stops at bum camps so the working population of Portland can pay for the drug addled and thieving population to wash their clothes, gratis. Same w/ showers; another bus. It’s cronyism directly related to who knows whom w/ in their local assembly. It is a version of the cronyism you’re seeing in the Anchorage Assembly albeit with a distinct difference.

      Stateside it’s a number of businesses set up to give the appearance of serving the homeless when factually none of them give a hoot about that segment… it’s simply another business opportunity that must be supported in order for it to continue to exist.

      Here it’s different. It’s not hangers-on that are leeching money from the Assembly, it’s the Assembly themselves that are promoting their own causes from within the system and therein lies the conflict. It’s why you see such grossly unethical behavior. Recall when Berky was poking the public by allowing Joe Dugan’s wife’s restaurants to enjoy special consideration during the plandemic based only on having provided Berky a kick back of @ $70k for that consideration. In Anchorage it’s the Assembly that is leeching from the Assembly and it’s why you’re seeing matters of marginal importance placed under a microscope.

      A grossly unethical Assembly will not fix itself; this cancer will require surgery.

      It is time to act. The risk? The risk is the strangulation death of your city.

  13. A – Was Mark Begich the realtor on this deal?
    B – who owned the GL Hotel when the marxist purchased it?
    C – Mayor Berkowitz & his lib mafia bought a hotel w/ NO parking?
    D – (& we’re supposed to believe they’re the smart kids?)

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