Anchorage Assembly to vote on purchase of former LIO building
Anchorage Assembly members are mulling over the Anchorage Community Development Authority's plan to buy the Downtown building state lawmakers vacated two years ago and rent it out to the Anchorage Police Department.
At a work session Wednesday, ACDA Director Andrew Halcro and APD Chief Justin Doll fielded questions about the logistics of the proposed $14 million deal, a significant decrease from the $40 million the state was quoted to buy the building two years ago.
Doll told assembly members his department has outgrown its headquarters on Elmore Road; detectives are bumping elbows and they're running out of room to store evidence in the building they moved into in the 1980s-- when they had half the employees they have now.
Moving 250 employees, more than a third of their roughly 600 staff members, into the building at 716 W 4th Avenue will free up space to house more evidence at the Elmore location, which is already equipped for evidence storage.
Command staff would be among those moving Downtown, while departments like dispatch, IT, and the crime lab would stay at the old building.
Doll says the building, already designed to house government, would require minimal changes to layout and security.
Rent would be around $1.5 million annually, compared to the price tag of expanding, an option APD has already looked into. A conservative estimate they've obtained is $67 million: $27 million to renovate the existing headquarters, and $40 million to build a new space.
Halcro told assembly members his concern, should the deal not be approved.
"I worry that somebody's gonna basically buy it let it sit for a couple of years and wait for the market to turn around."
Assemblymember John Weddleton, representing south Anchorage, raised the issue of image during the meeting.
"This is like a glorious crystal palace, and I don't think Anchorage and Alaskans, in general, want their government in crystal palaces."
Doll told those at the work session, "I guess the optics on a building like that, especially with this one's history, I can understand where the concern comes from. But, from my perspective, my main concern is what's operationally and logistically best for the police department and what resolves the biggest number of challenges for us in a financially reasonable way, and I think this meets all of those objectives."
Assembly members are still discussing the logistics of how the deal will be financed and are expected to vote on the purchase at their next regular meeting.
"This looks like a good deal and we should do it," said Weddleton.
Copyright 2018 KTVA. All rights reserved.