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Housing group to purchase 3rd Avenue land, buying out Bean’s Cafe and promising improved homeless services in the area

 Bean's Cafe sign
Bean's Cafe sign (KTUU)
Published: Feb. 19, 2021 at 4:19 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A namesake real estate and investment agency is planning on purchasing a large downtown Anchorage parcel of land that’s long served as a hub for homeless services and partner with one of the state’s largest nonprofit foundations to continue to provide aid to the at-risk community in the city.

The deal is currently set to include a large plot of land on which Bean’s Café – founded in 1979 and known for providing daytime shelter and food assistance services to the homeless – is located, off 3rd Avenue and right next door to Catholic Social Services’ Brother Francis Shelter.

According to a release on behalf of the Rasmuson Foundation and Weidner Apartment Homes, the latter will buy the land and, with the help of the foundation, will now have the ability “to set up a day-time resource hub in the Third Avenue area, improving long-standing public safety problems, as well as helping more Alaskans get into housing and access essential mental health, substance abuse services, and employment services.”

Weidner will acquire the land and the building that currently houses Bean’s Café, while the Rasmuson Foundation will be “creating a pilot program for guiding people into treatment, support services, and housing,” the release said, though there are no plans to add shelter capacity.

Diane Kaplan, Rasmuson Foundation president and CEO, added in the prepared statement that the move is “a way for private companies and foundations like ours to make Anchorage a safer, kinder, and healthier place to live.”

“We will augment work already being done by the city and nonprofits as part of the broader Anchored Home plan,” she said. “One way we can help is funding to expand and improve the Third Avenue area.”

The hope is that the project will improve conditions and facilities in the area, including addressing safety issues and cleanliness, as well as adding to the limited services that are available during daytime hours.

Bean’s Café, which has been transitioning its service model toward a meal delivery program instead of in-person operations, will relocate to a new space, according to the Anchorage Economic Development Corp.

The sale is expected to be finalized in the second quarter of 2021 and will not involve any taxpayer money, according to the release from Rasmuson and Weidner.

This is a developing story and updates will be made later today.

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