Anchorage finalizes purchase of Golden Lion for substance treatment center

The Best Western Golden Lion Hotel
The Best Western Golden Lion Hotel, which the city hopes to turn into a drug and alcohol treatment center. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

Anchorage officials finalized the purchase of the Best Western Golden Lion Hotel in Midtown on Tuesday. The hotel will be converted into a drug and alcohol treatment center. 

The $9 million sale is the first finalized purchase in a larger city plan to address homelessness in Anchorage. It was funded by proceeds from the sale of Municipal Light and Power earmarked for a community substance treatment center. Over the summer, the Anchorage Assembly also approved the purchase of three other buildings for homelessness services using federal CARES Act money.

The plan sparked intense outcry from residents in Midtown neighborhoods who feared a nearby treatment center would hurt property values or introduce more crime. Anchorage homelessness resource advocates said that properly managed facilities don’t have negative effects on their neighborhoods, and can keep people who are struggling from falling into homelessness.

In a press release, the city noted that demand for behavioral health and substance treatment has gone up in recent years while the number of treatment options in Anchorage has decreased. 

After an evaluation, the city said the Golden Lion is in good condition and renovations will begin soon. The future treatment center is expected to provide care for 75-100 people at a time.

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Kavitha George is the host of Alaska Morning News at Alaska Public Media. She also reports on business, labor and the economy. Reach her at kgeorge@alaskapublic.org.