Feds may finally sell Anchorage lot where Archives never went

Lot that was intended to be the Alaska home of the National Archives. (GoogleMap illustration)
Lot that was intended to be the Alaska home of the National Archives. (GoogleMap illustration)

The federal government owns about 60 percent of the land in Alaska, but that real estate portfolio is about to shrink, just a tiny bit. Congress this afternoon passed a bill allowing the federal government to finally shed ownership of a nine-acre lot in Midtown Anchorage. The late Sen. Ted Stevens had hoped the property on East 40th Street would be the Alaska home of the National Archives, but that plan fizzled for lack of funds by the time Stevens lost his seat.

Alaska Congressman Don Young has tried since 2013 to get Congress to allow the Municipality of Anchorage to buy the land. Young says it’s good for both the city and the federal government.

Download Audio

“The bill will require fair market value for the property, based on independent appraisal. The proceeds will be deposited in the treasury, used for deficit reduction,” Young said.

The government paid Anchorage developers Leonard Hyde and John Rubini $3.5 million for the lot in 2004. They had a close tie to Stevens. The senator made personal investments with developers on prior projects, and they paid off handsomely for Stevens. A federal investigation later found the Archives may have overpaid for the land, but found no wrong-doing.

Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz said the bill gives Anchorage a great opportunity for multi-use development in midtown. Congressman Young twice convinced the House to pass a similar bill, and he spoke in favor of it on the House floor today.

“I’m very excited to get this land into the hands of the Municipality of Anchorage for development purposes,” Berkowitz said.

Young’s bill is nearly identical, but the one that now heads to the president is a Senate bill, with U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan as its prime sponsor. Assuming President Obama signs it, it will be Sullivan’s first bill to become law.

Previous articleAggressive sea lion harasses fishermen
Next articleSenate adopts austere capital budget
Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Alaska Public Media. She reports from the U.S. Capitol and from Anchorage. Reach her at lruskin@alaskapublic.org.