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New owners of Anchorage motel plan remodel

Posted: March 24, 2014 - 12:00am
This photo taken Jan. 22, 2014,  shows The Big Timber Motel which is located on 5th Avenue and Unga Street across from Merrill Field in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/Anchorage Daily News. Bill Roth)  Bill Roth
Bill Roth
This photo taken Jan. 22, 2014, shows The Big Timber Motel which is located on 5th Avenue and Unga Street across from Merrill Field in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/Anchorage Daily News. Bill Roth)

ANCHORAGE — The troubled Big Timber Motel, seized by city officials in mid-January over delinquent property taxes, has quietly passed into new ownership — and the new owners are pledging a full remodel.

Local business owners Robert and Serena Alexander purchased the property at 2037 E. 5th Ave. this week. Filings with the state recorder’s office show that the former owner, Terry Stahlman, quit-claimed the property to Serena Alexander on Feb. 24.

Lindsey Whitt, city communications director, said the Alexanders became the owners on Wednesday after presenting the quit-claim deed from Stahlman and paying $81,679.49. That amount included $34,869.34 for back taxes and $46,810.12 for upgrades and repairs to the building, which had fallen into disrepair.

After seizing the property, inspectors found about two dozen tenants, including small children, living in vermin-infested rooms without heat or hot water. The city paid to upgrade the property and fix code violations, which included replacing two boilers, repairing leaking pipes, installing smoke alarms and changing door locks, and also planned to fumigate the rooms for pests.

In an interview, Robert Alexander said that he and his wife are planning to give the building a full facelift. “It’s a thing I’m not proud at the moment to have, but I’m proud of the level we’re going to take it to,” Alexander said.

The Alexanders own several businesses in Anchorage, including Bingo South, Fusions Bar and Grill and the Tri-Grill Restaurant. Alexander said in the interview that he also used to own a motor home rental company with 70 units, and is familiar with managing rental properties and tourism.

He said he and his wife plan to maintain the building as a hotel or motel, and said the interior will be gutted and remodeled.

The attached shuttered strip club, the Showboat Showclub, may re-open as a restaurant, Alexander said.

Alexander said he first moved to Alaska in 1985 as a member of the military.

“I remember walking downtown when I first got here,” he said. “It’s important to me that we keep our town looking good.”

As of Wednesday, there were still tenants living in the motel. Alexander said it may be a few months before the remodel begins, and until that point, people can live there, but will have to pay rent in order to cover utilities and insurance costs.

He said Stahlman will be acting as the general manager of the property and oversee the living arrangements of the tenants, because Stahlman “knows the clientele.” Stahlman has said in past interviews that he converted the motel four years ago into essentially a home for people with disabilities.

Stahlman was unavailable for comment Thursday.

It’s unclear whether the current tenants will be able to afford to live at the motel as residents when it re-opens. Alexander said the remodeled hotel will likely offer daily, as opposed to monthly, rentals.

Asked about complaints about bedbugs and rodents, Alexander said he is planning to bring in exterminators.

“We’re going to eliminate those problems,” he said. He also said: “I think you won’t recognize the place inside or outside once it’s done.”

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