45 days later, a proposal with few details on LIO building

At a meeting in Anchorage on Tuesday morning, the Legislative Council voted to spend up to $450,000 on legal assistance to fight Medicaid expansion in court. (Annie Feidt/APRN)
The Legislative Council at an August meeting in the Anchorage LIO. (Photo by Annie Feidt/APRN)

Tuesday was the deadline set by the Legislative Council to figure out what to do with the contested lease on the Legislative Information Office in downtown Anchorage.

In December, the council set a 45-day limit to decide whether or not to break a 10-year lease with the building’s owner, 716 West Fourth Avenue, LLC, comprised of developers Bob Acree and Mark Pfeffer.

Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, chairs the council. His staff said Tuesday it had received a proposal relevant to the considerations over the lease, but declined to give details. They said they expect to release more information later in the week.

A representative for the developers, Amy Slinker, wrote in a statement Tuesday, “Out of respect for the Legislative Council process, we are not able to share specifics of the proposal.”

Stevens could convene the Legislative Council to discuss the proposal as early as next week. The council’s recommendation to the full body of lawmakers may determine what happens to the LIO building and tens of millions of dollars in state funds.

Critics say the lease deal was inappropriately negotiated and profits the development company at taxpayer expense. The developer says the lease agreement was approved by lawmakers at a below-market rate in 2013, and that legislators are now reneging in a tougher economic climate.

The LIO building is also at the heart of a lawsuit brought forward by a neighboring business. In her statement, Slinker wrote that conversations with Stevens “appear likely to result in the dismissal of the lawsuit.” Reached for comment about the potential dismissal, Anchorage attorney Jim Gottstein, the plaintiff in the case, said, “We’ll see,” and declined to elaborate.

The future of the LIO lease is pegged to a budget appropriation. Other options proposed include moving Legislature operations to the state-owned Atwood building, abiding by the original terms of the lease or buying the building outright.

Correction: Mark Pfeffer’s name was misspelled in a previous version of this story. We regret the error.

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