Block 41 Redevelopment to Mix Old and New Façades
A rendering of Block 41 showing the rebuilt front of the historic 4th Avenue Theater surrounded by new architecture.
Refurbishing the former KeyBank building at 601 West 5th Avenue in downtown Anchorage is just the beginning. A redevelopment plan has been unveiled for the rest of the block.
Permits in Hand
Most of the property on Block 41, the name of the block between 4th and 5th Avenues and F and G Streets, is owned by Peach Holdings, led by brothers Derrick and Terence Chang. Redevelopment plans have been in the works for more than a decade, but now Peach Holdings has secured demolition permits from the Municipality of Anchorage for most of the addresses on the block, including the vacant 4th Avenue Theater.
The Block 41 project will consist of Class A commercial office space, a hotel, retail, housing, parking, and entertainment venues in the heart of downtown.
A statement from Peach Holdings says, “The Block 41 development reflects our continuous belief in downtown Anchorage. We live, work, and play here. We have kids in school here. We want this city to thrive.”
The statement continues, “We have owned properties in Anchorage since 1986 and believe in our economy and community. This will be a project that the community can be proud of while giving our economy the boost it needs. We want to restore downtown as a true financial, cultural, and social hub that attracts both locals and foreign visitors. It is time to bring business back to downtown.”
The announced project cost is $200 million. That price tag compares to approximately $35 million for 601 West 5th Avenue, which anchors one corner of the block, or the $40 million to build 188 Northern Lights in Midtown from scratch in 2008.
“This investment and project will transform downtown Anchorage as we know it,” says Mayor Dave Bronson. “Since the day I took office, my administration has been laser-focused on making Anchorage a place where developers and investors want to do business again. Today’s announcement is evidence that we are turning the corner and rebuilding Anchorage.”
On Top of History
A rendering of Block 41, viewed from Town Square Park, shows new construction west of 601 West 5th Avenue mirroring its diagonal prow, with a red display element that wraps around G Street to 4th Avenue.
Previous plans to redevelop Block 41 have been met with concerns about the historic legacy of the 4th Avenue Theater. Anchorage’s first concrete building is on the National Register of Historic Places, considered a landmark because of its Art Deco design and elaborate interior filigree. An attempt by the city to purchase the property fell through in 2006, and it has stood empty ever since.
Adam Trombley, the city’s director of economic and community development, says the owners have been paying $10,000 per month in utilities for the theater alone. He adds that the building has been found to have numerous defects—such as lead, asbestos, a failing boiler, and an open elevator shaft—that would be too costly to remedy.
“It has been determined that the demolition of the 4th Avenue theater and adjacent buildings on 4th Avenue is the only safe and economically feasible approach,” Trombley says.
Peach Holdings pledges to maintain the look of the exterior, albeit with modern materials, and preserve the artwork inside. Survey efforts with the National Park Service are underway to document, record, and preserve artwork, artifacts, and historical elements.
The developers expect to begin preliminary demolition and construction this summer, starting on the 4th Avenue side. Multiple buildings on the block will be fully demolished and replaced by new structures built in their place.
“Projects like these create high-paying jobs, grow our economy, broaden the tax base, and enhance our way of life,” says Mayor Bronson. “I can say with confidence that my team is supportive of this project, and that we support the efforts the developers are making to revitalize downtown.”