Update, July, 7:
The state DOT says there are several financial and security reasons behind the decision to remove the houses and old motel. In a statement, the DOT says it is not considering renting the houses out, citing expensive repair work and relocation benefits that would need to be paid to whoever moved in.
The DOT says vacant buildings can affect the safety and value of the surrounding neighborhood, adding that the state is currently paying for a property manager to look after the structures.
Two houses and a former business in Government Hill will be demolished by November, according to Alaska Department of Transportation documents.
The DOT is advertising for bids to remove the Erickson Street structures, which stand in the way of a proposed tunnel connecting the Knik Arm Crossing.
“It’s an effort to create another appearance of momentum that the bridge is going to go forward,” said Stephanie Kesler, president of the Government Hill Community Council.
Kesler said it’s premature to tear down the building before the project has the federal financial backing it needs.
“Because if the loans don’t come through then you’ve just destroyed two houses in our neighborhoods for a project that’s never going to happen,” Kesler said. “And these houses are great houses…and given Anchorage’s housing shortage we think the houses should be rented out until this is decided one way or the other”
The state owns all three properties and the DOT said the occupants were relocated over a year ago.
The properties aren’t known for their historical value; the homes were built in the late 1950s but have been remodeled. The motel was build in 1965 and is no longer in operation. The DOT and GHCC agree about the removal of the Sourdough Lodge, saying it will increase neighborhood safety because vacant buildings can attract criminal activity.
The DOT was not available to comment on Sunday.