2 projects could help revitalize Downtown Anchorage

2 projects could help revitalize Downtown Anchorage
Published: May. 31, 2023 at 4:56 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Some could argue that Downtown Anchorage has seen better days but a former mayor has a different view — Mark Begich sees opportunity.

Begich and former Alaska Revenue Commissioner Sheldon Fisher are the primary investors in the purchase of both the Aviator Hotel and the former Post Office Mall on Fourth Avenue in Downtown Anchorage. Begich said a number of Alaskans have also invested, largely those who are eager to see downtown revitalized.

Begich has a signed franchise agreement with an international hotel group to transform the 251-room Aviator into an upscale boutique hotel — although he can’t yet disclose the name of the hotelier. Work has already begun on the project, which will include a restaurant, bar, and an in-house brewery run by Midnight Sun Brewing Company. Begich estimated the project cost, including the hotel purchase, as between $40 million and $60 million.

But that’s not the only investment the group is making on the nearly four-block stretch of 4th Avenue. Begich said work has also begun to transform the former Post Office Mall, now called the 4th Avenue Market Place, into living and retail space.

“Any city that is going to be successful has to have a vibrant, thriving downtown. Not just retail and tourism, but also living and housing and a mixed-use kind of component,” Begich said.

The plan calls for 18 to 20 loft-style condominiums on the top floor, a mix of retail and restaurants on the second floor, and a grocery store on the bottom level. There’s no commitment from a grocery retailer yet, although several are interested and Begich said he’s confident it will happen.

Some rooms at the new hotel should be ready by the fall, but Begich said the entire project including the restaurant and brewery will open next spring or summer in time for the tourism season. The mall project may take longer, according to Begich, but the work has already begun.