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Kulis’ future uncertain; filmmakers show interest

Posted: July 18, 2011 - 9:24pm  |  Updated: July 18, 2011 - 10:33pm

ANCHORAGE — Kulis Air National Guard Base in Anchorage, with its cavernous hangars and wide assortment of buildings, is up for sale and facing an uncertain future.

So far, no one has stepped up to pay the $100 fee for the lease application, but there has been interest including from one of Alaska’s hottest industries — the film business, according to Monday’s Anchorage Daily News.

The state owns the 130-acre parcel near Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and would like to see a buyer or a tenant.

“I would almost compare it to a college campus,” said Katie Gage, who is responsible for selling or leasing Kulis. “You can tell it was a community, a military community.”

The Air Guard’s 176th Wing moved to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson earlier this year. Kulis had been home to the wing for more than 55 years. The base was the launching point for countless Alaska rescue and recovery missions as well as international deployments.

There’s a central dining hall, a clinic, office buildings, four hangars, a warehouse, assorted sheds and shops, and an engine testing stand designed for C-130s. In all, there are 46 buildings and related facilities at Kulis. One hangar was built in 1963 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Some of the buildings will have to be demolished.

The state wants the property to start generating revenue as soon as possible, and many of buildings are newer and in good shape, said John Parrott, Stevens Airport manager.

Generally, the Federal Aviation Administration requires land deeded by the federal government for an airport, like Stevens, to be used for aviation, but it will loosen that requirement on a case-by-case basis, airport officials said.

The airport hired Dowl HKM, an engineering firm, to help it plan for Kulis’ future. Surveys found that small to medium air carriers are interested in the hangars and other buildings that front the existing aircraft parking area and connect by taxiway to one of the international airport’s main runways. They see little use for buildings farther out that are cut off from the airfield. But the hangars may be too big for a single small carrier, and retrofitting them to serve several carriers might be too expensive, Dowl found.

Three big feature film production companies have looked at the Kulis property with interest, said Wanetta Ayers, director of the state Division of Economic Development. She wouldn’t name them but said one of the movies will be bigger than the upcoming “Everybody Loves Whales,” which stars Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski and was filmed largely in Anchorage last summer.

“It appears from the demand we are seeing that there are significant productions that are queued up that could serve as a significant source of revenue for the airport,” she said.

Carolyn Robinson, owner of SprocketHeads film production services company, has been talking it up among movie producers planning to shoot in Alaska.

“It’s so made to be a film campus,” Robinson said.

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