Notorious Inlet Inn to Close
The downtown hotel has been a vortex of crime and violence
ANCHORAGE - Anchorage police have said it's been a haven for everything from petty crime to homicide and sexual assault. Now one of downtown's most infamous hotels, the Inlet Inn, is closing its doors for good.
Members of the neighborhood said the Inn has ranged from a minor annoyance to a source of dangerous crime. And they’re happy — and relieved — to see it go.
The Holy Family Cathedral is across the street from the hotel, and the church have had plenty of problems from the residents.
“We have had break-ins, we have had the homeless urinate in the church, throw up in the church,” Teri Perez said. She works reception at the church’s office, and said parishioners and church workers are regularly harassed by the Inn’s clients, as well as those who are drawn to the illicit activities — including drug dealing and prostitution — that police know go on behind its doors.
“At night it’s very scary walking out of here because there's always a group from the Inlet Inn to the liquor store; there's this constant movement through the alley, and its scary for us you know?”
Businesses in the neighborhood have also been affected by the hotel.
”We are a tourist industry, and tourist driven, and so, you know, if things are happening at the Inlet Inn and there's a bunch of flashing lights, it might divert people from our business,” Torgeir Robertson said. He works at the Oomingmak qivuit shop, which shares the intersection of 6th and H streets, adjacent to the Inn.
After years of complaints from the community, and innumerable calls from police and EMS, the people who own the building are now terminating the hotel’s lease, and giving the tenants two weeks to leave.
“It's an accumulation of things,” Mark Pfeffer said. He’s one of the owners of the Inlet Inn property through Augustine Energy Center, LLC. They bought property about six years ago, looking to redevelop it. But when the economy collapsed in 2008, the plans for the hotel fell through. And so they allowed the Inn’s owner to continue operating under a lease.
“And they have not been performing under that lease,” Pfeffer said
Pfeffer explained that all reports of disturbances from Anchorage police go to the Augustine Energy Group. They pass them on to the Inn operator, hoping each new complaint would spur them to clean up their act. “That's happened over and over and over, and that corrective action has not been forthcoming,” he said. “So we've concluded that either they are unwilling or unable to resolve those issues, and so we're terminating the lease.”
But despite the desire to see the Inn go, many in the community believe the issues that made the hotel a problem still need to be addressed.
“These are human beings, you know?” Perez said. “They're not pieces of garbage… they're human beings, and that’s what we have got to remember, that they are human beings, and that we just have got to work with them, just like we work with any other problems in the city.”
Even Mayor Dan Sullivan admitted that closing one hotel won’t stop the crime and violence downtown.
“Because of its location, it was kind of an attractive nuisance,” he said at a press briefing today. With the Inn closing, “you'd like think that maybe that population would be dispersed into numerous locations rather than all centered into one,” he said, “and I think that helps.”
What comes next, according to Pfeffer, is a long-term look at revitalizing the neighborhood. Which, in the short term, means the building could be demolished as early as this summer, with a “high probability” of it being turned into a parking lot.
For now, though, the problem will be shuttered on February 1.