Anchorage Community Development Authority buys J.C. Penney parking garage and former Nordstrom building

The JCPenney garage and the former Nordstrom building are being purchased by the Anchorage Community Development Authority
The JCPenney garage and the former Nordstrom building are being purchased by the Anchorage Community Development Authority(ktuu)
Published: Oct. 12, 2020 at 4:11 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anchorage Community Development Authority Director Andrew Halcro is calling it a game-changer for downtown Anchorage. The agency announced Monday it has negotiated a deal with J.C. Penney and their bankruptcy trustees to purchase the J.C. Penney parking garage for $1.7 million as well as the majority ownership of the former Nordstrom building for $1.5 million. ACDA will fund the purchase with existing cash and loans.

Halcro said the deal means ACDA will own 80% of the land under the Nordstrom building, and will now have to deal with just one other property owner, a family trust which built the building in 1974. He said that would make it much easier to come to a deal on redeveloping the property. But before any development project can happen, Halcro said both buildings will have to come down.

“The two buildings have their own challenges,” said Halcro. “The J.C. Penney garage has reached the end of its natural life. The second is, the Nordstrom building was designed for a specific purpose. The structure of the building does not allow itself to retail or hotel or apartments.”

Halcro said once the buildings are gone they could be replaced by more modern development.

“Our primary goal after acquisition is to collaborate with private developers and create an exciting private/public partnership on these two sites,” ACDA said in a release.

The idea is very similar to what was proposed for another project on nearby 6th Avenue. The Downtown Transit Center building was to have a luxury hotel, condos and a restaurant. But the developer and investors pulled out of the project after the economy went sour and COVID-19 delivered a final blow. Halcro said local developers are working to save the project but right now it’s in limbo.

Even so, Halcro expects the 6th Avenue project to go forward, eventually. He said the purchase of the buildings is an important first step.

“What we are trying to do now is, we are really actively trying to set the table. So when the Anchorage economy comes roaring back, the city will have tools in place to take advantage and develop downtown into the modern vibrant city that it is," he said.

Halcro said he believes predictions that the city economy will rebound in three years.

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