Firm wants to turn Whittier eyesore into tourist resort

Posted: Wednesday, February 26, 2003

ANCHORAGE - A New York investment firm announced plans to buy an old military building in Whittier for more than $21 million.

Laidlaw Global Corp. says it plans to turn the World War II-era Buckner Building into a five-star resort. Laidlaw said shareholders and the Securities and Exchange Commission must still approve the deal.

The Buckner Building is one of two former military buildings that constitute most of Whittier. The town, a Cold War outpost 75 miles southeast of Anchorage, has a population of about 170 and a small economy.

"We're well aware that Whittier is a one-man and a one-sheep town. But we're of the belief that people will want to come to this area for the bird life and the fish life," said Julian Edwards, the London-based chief executive of Laidlaw Properties, a subsidiary of Laidlaw Global.

If the deal pans out, Laidlaw executives say they will seek investors and financing to pump $70 million into the fortress-like building and turn it into a 476-room Ramada Plaza Hotel.

Whittier officials declared the building a nuisance some time ago and told owner George LaMoureaux of Anchorage to board it up, which he has yet to do, said former Bayor Ben Butler. The city was planning to foreclose on the building this week, said Acting City Manager Leonard Jones.



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