Paving the Paradise Inn to put up a parking lot in Spenard

Published: May. 8, 2019 at 3:17 PM AKDT
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The now infamous Paradise Inn in Spenard is slated to become a parking lot.

Cindy Berger, who owns the building next door to the inn, bought the building this past November.

She had higher hopes to transform the hotel into something usable, but once inside, realized it was too far gone. On a recent tour inside the Paradise Inn, a ceiling sagged and water dripped. Coins were tossed throughout and floor tiles buckled.

"I had crossed my fingers when the U.S. Marshals had seized it that it could be restored into like a hostel or some sort of cool groovy Spenard hotel again, but it's not," Berger said.

The previous owner of the inn had agreed to forfeit the property as part of a plea deal on felony drug charges, court records show. Accused of selling 327 grams of methamphetamine to a federal informant at the hotel in 2014, Kyong Song agreed in 2016 to plead guilty.

Even more famous than the inn's sordid past was the 22-foot neon palm tree that used to greet visitors in front of Paradise.

Jay Stange, the president of the Spenard Community Council, is now in charge of the palm tree after 60 people contributed $2,700 to a Go Fund Me account to

after a campaign by Stange.

The tree had sat outside the motel until a garbage disposal company contracted to haul up the debris took the tree for itself after the inn became federal property.

That started the next saga involving the tree. After complaints and legal action by the federal government, which told the garbage company that the tree was its property, a judge ruled it should be returned to the government, where it was placed with the U.S. Marshals Service, and then auctioned and purchased by Stange.

Berger, who was out of the country during the auction, says she also wanted the neon tree, which is an icon in Spenard.

"I would love it back on the property. At some point I hope it's a possibility," Berger said. "We just have to see what really works."

She says she's been in talks with Stange to see where, and if, the tree might again move back onto the property and represent Spenard.