15-story tower to be one of largest Anchorage buildings

Posted: Friday, December 02, 2005

ANCHORAGE - A real estate development company plans to build a 15-story, 300,000-square-foot office tower in Midtown Anchorage.

John Rubini and Leonard Hyde, principal owners of JL Properties, said they are proceeding with the $70 million project "on spec" - without lining up tenants ahead of time.

"Building a spec office building is different than anything we've done before, and it took us a while to get comfortable with the notion that if we build it someone will actually come," Rubini said.

The new tower would be one of the larger office buildings in Anchorage.

It is planned just west of two other buildings JL Properties recently built on a 30-acre site that had been a mobile-home park the company bought and redeveloped.

The 10-story Arctic Slope Regional Corp. building on C Street south of 36th Avenue was the first to go up in 2002, followed by the five-story Centerpoint Financial Center next door last year.

The developers have gotten financial backing from an Outside pension fund for the new building, tentatively named JL Tower. Site work is scheduled to begin in August. The partners hope to begin moving in tenants by fall 2008.

Anchorage-based Rim Architects, which designed the Arctic Slope and Centerpoint buildings, is designing the tower, which will include curved glass and stone facades that will complement its sister structures.

Although it will have only one more floor than the nearby 14-story Frontier Building, the new tower will be topped by a three-story, sharply sloped peak, the architect's drawings show.

The peak, constructed of a metal latticelike screen, will obscure the heating and cooling system and other equipment on the roof. It will be lit from inside, making it stand out in the night sky, Hyde said.

"It's going to be like a beacon on the Midtown skyline," said Larry Cash, Rim Architects president.

Bruce Burnett, a longtime local commercial real estate broker, was surprised when he heard about JL Properties' plan. There's already a glut of class A office space in Anchorage, with as many as 300,000 square feet vacant, he estimated.

"It seems like overkill at this point, but they may know something the rest of us don't," Burnett said of the developers.

Rubini and Hyde have a different take on the office-rental market.

They say there has been a relatively low vacancy rate for the nicest office space and there have not been new office buildings of that size put up in Anchorage for years.

Many of Anchorage's largest office buildings, including the 330,000-square-foot Atwood Building and BP (Alaska) Exploration Inc.'s 313,000-square-foot tower, were built in the 1980s.

"If you were a firm coming to Anchorage and you needed 25,000 square feet of nice office space, you don't have many options right now," Rubini said.

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