Fairbanks building awaits demolition… or revitalization?

A group of Fairbanks city leaders are working to find money to demolish the Polaris building. They’ve grown frustrated awaiting action on the deteriorating downtown high rise.

Polaris building. Photo: Dan Bross/KUAC.
Polaris building. Photo: Dan Bross/KUAC.

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Anchorage real estate developer Marc Marlow has been trying for over a decade to secure financing to renovate the long abandoned 1950s Polaris Hotel into apartments, and city council member David Pruhs is through waiting.

“We should just knock it down and be done with it,” Pruhs says.

Pruhs, who leads a Polaris work group, says city condemnation enables demolition of the 11 story concrete structure, but it would cost millions.

“It’d be beyond our budget at the city of Fairbanks… so our task is to go see if we can find federal funds.”

Polaris owner Marc Marlow of Anchorage could not be reached for comment but city council member Jim Matherly, an ex-banker says, he’s in regular communication.

“His intention is to still revitalize it,” Matherly says.

Matherly says Marlow, who’s been successful with similar projects in Anchorage, is awaiting response on a federal funding application. Matherly says something needs to happen given the building’s condition.

“It’s ugly. It’s a huge albatross around his neck and the city’s neck.”

City Mayor John Eberhart is optimistic that if the Polaris goes it can be replaced with something new.

“That site was identified as the best site in Fairbanks for a performing arts center.”

Councilman Pruhs says no timeline is set for Marlow to take action on the Polaris.

“His deadline is us getting the money to knock it down.”

Pruhs says that could take years.

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Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.