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Municipality to end contract with Bean’s Café; long-term future of Sullivan Arena uncertain

New operator of temporary shelter services at the arena to be announced next week
The Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska.
The Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska.(KTUU)
Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 7:43 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Bean’s Café has received notice from the Municipality of Anchorage that the service contract it has with the organization for the temporary emergency shelter at the Sullivan Arena will terminate effective Sept. 15, 2021.

The office of Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson said there is a plan in place to continue services at the arena for those experiencing homelessness past that date with another operator, which will be announced next week.

As a result of the contract with Bean’s Café ending, approximately 77 employees will be laid off. This includes temporary and fulltime employees who work within shelter operations at the arena. Although members of Bronson’s administration and the working group dedicated to finding a mass care and long-term navigation solution may receive the engineering report with assessment results, existing structure evaluations and cost for a winter shelter plan by Sept. 24, that date is more likely to be on or closer to Oct.15 according to Assembly Vice Chair Christopher Constant.

“To the public, I want you to understand that we are working hard and as quickly as possible to move towards an approach that will resolve this issue,” Constant said. “But we can’t do it until we know how much it costs because it wouldn’t be a wise use of your tax dollars. With that said, I’d like to thank the team negotiating with us in good faith and I look forward to getting back to that work.”

The Bronson administration responded via Communications Director Corey Allen Young that they are committed to continuing mass care shelter “without delay” and that there will still be staff, beds, food and other services available to clients in the Sullivan Arena on Sept. 16. A request for proposals was requested by the Municipality of Anchorage to continue services with another operator, Young said. In accordance with this RFP, the municipality will provide cots and they hope for minimal disruption to services.

Young said via email that no clients will have to leave the Sullivan Arena.

The process to announce the next provider in charge has not been formalized. According to Bronson’s office, once that process is complete, a formal announcement will be made sometime next week.

The current draft plan for providing winter shelter for those experiencing homelessness details seven potential future sites for a shelter or shelters, and has been released along with upcoming important dates in the negotiation process. All sides seem to agree that they would like to see entertainment and perhaps sports return to the Sullivan Arena, contingent upon addressing the humanitarian component of the homelessness crisis.

The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development will be on site at the Sullivan Arena from 2-4 p.m. this Monday, Sept. 13, to provide assistance and information on career support and training services for all employees at the arena. This is included but not limited to the unemployment insurance filing process and potential job search resources.

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