Decrepit, abandoned Polaris Hotel could soon be owned by City of Fairbanks

Polaris Hotel. (Photo: Dan Bross / KUAC)

The City of Fairbanks could soon take ownership of the abandoned Polaris Hotel. The owner of the derelict downtown high rise, Anchorage developer Marc Marlow, did not pay past due property taxes by a May 25th deadline, and city council member David Pruhs says that opens up a path for the city to acquire the building beginning with consideration of an ordinance at Monday’s council meeting.

”I’m introducing, for a second reading, an ordinance that designates the Polaris building a public interest property for the City of Fairbanks,” Pruhs said. “Once we do that and sign that ordinance, the Fairbanks North Star Borough will deed it over to the City of Fairbanks, when we pay the Fairbanks North Star Borough for the back taxes that are owed.”

Pruhs says the tax bill is $38,000. Pruhs heads a group pursuing city ownership demolition and redevelopment of the Polaris property.

”A performing arts center, convention center, a very nice viable place for downtown Fairbanks,” Pruhs said.

No money has been secured for the estimated $4 million demolition, and the much costlier re-development. Pruhs says the city owning the building is the first step to seeking federal support for the projects, but fellow councilmember Jerry Cleworth has reservations about the plan.

”If we can’t get funds to tear it down, or demolish it, it just becomes a burden to the taxpayers of the area,” Cleworth said.

The 11-story Polaris is Fairbanks tallest building and has been vacant for 18 years. Marc Marlow tried to get federal funding to redevelop the former hotel into apartments.

Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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