Anchorage green financing program closes biggest deal to date

A man in an olive green sweater speaks at a podium.
Businessman, former U.S. Senator and former Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich speaks at a press conference about renovations underway at the Aviator Hotel in downtown Anchorage on Monday. Also pictured: Bali Kumar of the Pace Loan Group, Melanie Lucas-Conwell of the city’s C-PACER program, Mayor Dave Bronson and hotel business partner Sheldon Fisher. (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

Anchorage officials and business leaders announced Monday that they had closed the biggest deal to date in a green financing program’s short history. 

Through the city’s C-PACER program, a national lender has financed $5.5 million for the Alaska Hotel Group, which is renovating the former Aviator Hotel. The money is paying for upgrades that will give the building a smaller carbon footprint, higher property value and lower operating costs. 

From a room stripped down to concrete floors and steel beams, one of the leaders of the hotel group, Sheldon Fisher, said there are already savings in their electric bill.  

“A third-party engineer estimated that we would save around $600,000 a year over a 20-year expected life,” Fisher said. “That will be more than $12 million, and that’s not bad for a five-and-a-half million dollar investment.” 

The money is paying for a new, combined heating and power system, ventilation systems, new insulation for the roof and walls, and new water-saving plumbing fixtures. 

Over the life of the loan, the property owners must pay extra property taxes to the city, which in turn repays the loan. Former U.S. Senator and former Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, another hotel group leader, said the city’s involvement helps secure better interest rates and more favorable terms than a typical, commercial business loan. He said it also adds to the pool of capital available for the overall renovation. 

Melanie Lucas-Conwell directs the municipality’s C-PACER program, which was established in 2021 after a state law made these programs possible. C-PACER is short for “commercial property assessed clean energy and resilience.” 

A woman in a maroon outfit speaks at a podium.
Melanie Lucas-Conwell, director of the municipality’s C-PACER program, speaks at a press conference at the Aviator Hotel under renovation in downtown Anchorage on Monday. “We all know how much our buildings need upgrades in Anchorage. The program’s also available now for new construction, which we’re very excited to see — not just clean energy, but also resilience,” she said. (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

“The reason for having this event is to promote it and to show to more property owners that it is not as risky as it might seem, and that pretty much every property in Anchorage should be doing a C-PACER project, frankly,” she said. 

Lucas-Conwell said her position and the city’s C-PACER program are funded through the program’s own fees, not taxpayer dollars. 

So far, Lucas-Conwell said Anchorage is the only city or borough in the state with an active program. She said the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly has passed a resolution to establish one, and that officials with the Kenai Peninsula Borough and both City of Fairbanks and Fairbanks North Star Borough are interested. 

Begich said he hopes to reopen as a boutique hotel with 252 rooms in about six months. The renovations will include a new restaurant, microbrewery and heated decks with views of Denali. He said the hotel will be rebranded, but he can’t share the new name yet. It will be attached to a national franchise. 

A man leads a tour in hotel room
Businessman, former U.S. Sen. and former Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich guides a tour through a renovated, model room in the former Aviator Hotel in downtown Anchorage on Monday. The hotel group leader said he hopes to reopen as a boutique hotel. (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

Jeremy Hsieh covers Anchorage with an emphasis on housing, homelessness, infrastructure and development. Reach him at or 907-550-8428. Read more about Jeremy here.

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