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Midtown Anchorage Says Adieu to the Abandoned Blight that was the Northern Lights Hotel


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As the structure is pulled apart, dust and debris spill out.

Photo by Kathryn Mackenzie


Photo by Kathryn Mackenzie

The CAT jaws seek out another good spot to grab.

After decades of controversy and complaints, it took less than twenty-four hours for the stripped down steel structures that used to be the Northern Lights Hotel to be completely leveled, leaving nothing behind but piles of rubble.

For the past several several weeks Central Environmental Inc. (CEI), project managers of the demolition, picked the building apart piece-by-piece in an effort to maximize asbestos abatement. By mid-month, CEI had removed as much of the hazardous material as possible and all the debris from the interior of the building. As it slowly disappeared, it seemed the decrepit, yet iconic old hotel would fade quietly into the fabric of Anchorage’s history.

Photo by Kathryn Mackenzie

Pieces of the building are torn asunder just before it begins to fall.

However, starting on August 24th, giant cranes began ripping pieces of steel from the skeletal remains of the building until each of three sections came slamming down amidst a plume of dust that billowed out over Northern Lights Boulevard. The crash of the falling building was met with a smattering of applause and cheers from a handful of onlookers who emerged from neighboring businesses to watch as the “blight” of a building met its end after sitting (mostly) empty for the past fifteen years.

Following numerous complaints from Anchorage residents, city officials issued a search warrant to investigate the Northern Lights Hotel for code violations late last year. During their search, the fire department found evidence of homeless encampments throughout the building and dealt out roughly sixty code violations. Fire Inspector James Gray told Alaska Business that the fire department wanted the building demolished because it was a nuisance and potential safety hazard.

Photo by Kathryn Mackenzie

With one final pull, the building begins to topple.

Now that the building is down, CEI will spend the next month or so cutting out the foundation and backfilling the site. The steel, concrete, and other debris including interior walls and furnishings will be recycled, according to CEI, which intends to recycle as much of the material as possible to keep it out of Anchorage’s landfill.

Speculation and rumors about the future of the lot are running rampant throughout the business community, especially among those businesses surrounding the former hotel site.

We set some of those rumors to rest and give an in-depth look at the checkered history of the Northern Lights Hotel in the October issue of Alaska Business through conversations with Derrick Chang, the registered agent for hotel owner Emerald Investments, CEI Project Manager Shane Durand, Fire Inspector James Gray, and the many other city officials and workers who contributed to the final take-down of the Northern Lights Hotel.

In seconds one section of the decades old Northern Lights building is nothing more than a pile of debris.

Photo by Kathryn Mackenzie

 

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