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45-day Anchorage LIO deadline came and went with no action

By Liz Raines 9:41 PM February 2, 2016

The deadline members of the Legislative Council set for themselves to make a decision on the controversial Anchorage Legislative Information Office (LIO) building came and went Tuesday, with no action taken.

On Dec. 19, legislators passed a motion to allow the building owner 45 days to offer a “competitive price” for buying the building, or they’d recommend moving. The Legislature’s current 10-year lease on the building is valued at $40,320,000.

Sen. Gary Stevens, Chair of the Legislative Council, said he has received a new offer from 716 West Fourth Avenue LLC, but that it isn’t any cheaper than proposals put before the council in December. He also said he’s not sure the council will stand by its vow to move.

“It’s never as simple as it may seem,” he said. “If we look at purchasing the building, then we’ve got something after 20 years, 30 years, whatever it is. We’ve got something of value that we own, that is state owned, so you have to sort of look at that as well.”

He said some of the state agencies he’d been hopeful might help pick up the bill now want nothing to do with the building.

“They’ve said no, they’re not going to be involved in it,” Stevens said.

Stevens said he is still reviewing the proposal with lawyers and hopes to make it available to the Legislature and the public by Friday, Feb. 5.

Without having seen the details of the proposal, Rep. Sam Kito said if it’s not cheaper, the decision is clear.

“What that tells me in the legislative process is that the Legislative Council has made the decision to not fund the lease,” Kito said.

In a statement Tuesday, Amy Slinker, a spokesperson for 716 West Fourth Avenue LLC, said:

Our discussions with Senator Stevens over the past 45 days have pushed us to dig deep for short term interim savings.  That then sets the stage for a long term solution to save millions of dollars and help avoid any negative financial implications for the state.

Sinker said the company would not share the details of the proposal out of respect for the Legislative Council process.

“Having met our 45 day deadline, we trust that the Legislative Council will meet to consider the proposal that achieves these results,” Slinker said.

There is an ongoing lawsuit over the LIO building lease, led by Jim Gottstein, of Alaska Building Inc., that questions the legality of the contract. If the judge rules in favor of Gottstein, the building’s owner, Mark Pfeffer, would be without legal grounds to sue the Legislature for breaking that contract and moving.

In her statement Tuesday, Slinker referenced the lawsuit, saying, “The conversations with Sen. Stevens appear likely to result in dismissal of the lawsuit by Alaska Building, Inc.”

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