After thousands of dollars in theft, vandalism and other damage to the Sullivan Arena, the acting mayor of Anchorage has finalized a plan to buy a controversial building near a midtown family neighborhood and move vagrants out of the arena.
But she will leave the final decision to buy the old Alaska Club building at 630 E. Tudor Rd. to the incoming mayor.
The Sullivan Arena has seen major damage, from urine soaked concrete to stolen equipment since from Mayor Ethan Berkowitz turned it into a homeless shelter last year to help spread out homeless during the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson asserted today that more people were made homeless by the Covid pandemic, which necessitates buying a building. That claim is disputed, since evictions were outlawed during the past year. Quinn-Davidson said the Sullivan Arena is “a national model for mass care shelter facilities that safely provide hundreds of people each night with shelter, food, and connection to services.”
Today, over 700 individuals are living in the Municipality’s shelter system, the Mayor’s Office said. More than half — approximately 400 — sleep in the Sullivan Arena each night, with more staying in hotels that are on contract with the city.
Former Mayor Berkowitz told reporters last year the Sullivan would be a temporary solution. Federal funds for the Sullivan are expiring at the end of September, which will be about 18 months after the arena was taken over.
Quinn-Davidson became acting mayor in October when Berkowitz resigned in disgrace on Oct. 23. Her term ends July 1, but she has formed a plan to transition 415 people out of the Sullivan by Aug, 31. The plan includes:
• Housing 75 people via Housing First Case Management contract, which will bring on 12 new case managers
- Housing 75 people via existing case management resources
- Sheltering 90 people in existing locations, including nonprofit shelters (as reduced need forphysical distancing allows increased capacity), assisted living homes, or hotels until case management resources can support a transition into housing
- Sheltering 125 people at a new facility and help these individuals out of homelessness byconnecting them to resources
- Transitioning 50 people to respite care
The old Alaska Club building at 630 East Tudor Road would become a 125-bed shelter.
It is this very building that activated thousands of Anchorage residents to take part in protests against moving vagrants into their neighborhoods under the former Berkowitz planned use of CARES Act funds last year. The planned purchase of four buildings created such a major reaction in the public that Anchorage ended up electing a conservative mayor in Dave Bronson, who will be sworn in July 1.
“Last summer, the Municipality had considered purchasing this building. During the due diligence process, the Municipality ultimately determined that the total cost, including purchase price, repairs, and renovations, was no longer fiscally prudent. At that point, the Municipality terminated the purchase and sale agreement,” Quinn-Davidson wrote in a statement. The final purchase price, including closing costs, is $5.436 million, which is $1.4 million less than the original price.
Over 900 people in the community have signed a letter saying they don’t want the building repurposed for shelter.
The Municipality has not closed the transaction, and has extended the closing date to July 9, leaving the decision to the incoming Mayor Dave Bronson.
Quinn-Davidson briefed incoming Mayor Dave Bronson ahead of today’s announcement.
“The Mayor’s Office looks forward to collaborating with the next administration to find ways to support the return of the Sullivan Arena to its original use and to ensure hundreds of people are not left out in the cold on Anchorage’s trails and streets this fall,” Quinn-Davidson wrote.