Developer plans tallest building in downtown Anchorage

24-story tower would feature luxury condos, offices, shops, parking

Posted: Thursday, December 08, 2005

ANCHORAGE - A San Francisco-based developer plans to build a 24-story tower in downtown Anchorage combining luxury condominiums, offices, shops and parking.

"This will be the tallest building downtown when it's done, and there's nothing else like it in terms of usage," said Al Barrett, the city planner overseeing the Fifth Avenue development.

Joe and Maria Fang, owners of Peach Investments, also have made an offer to buy the 4th Avenue Theatre behind the lot on which the new tower is to stand. They might use it to expand the project, city officials said.

The new tower will stand 288 feet high, according to project plans, a few feet shorter than the 22-story, 296-foot Conoco Phillips building.

The Fifth Avenue tower will go up on what now is a parking lot west of the Key Bank Plaza, which the Fangs also own. Construction is expected to start next spring and be finished by 2009, Barrett said.

The Fangs first proposed a mixed-use, high-rise development on the site in 2000.

They delayed the project after Sept. 11, 2001, noting a weakened economy and wariness about living in tall buildings after terrorists hijacked airplanes and crashed them into the World Trade Center in New York.

Last fall, the Fangs submitted updated plans for the 130-foot-by-100-foot site.

The top 12 floors will house about 58 high-end condominiums of various sizes and configurations, including two-story townhouse-style units. Those with north- and west-facing windows will feature sweeping vistas of Cook Inlet, Mount McKinley and the Alaska Range.

Five floors of offices will be connected to the Key Bank building, with access through its existing elevators and elevators from six parking levels, which together will have 146 parking places.

The ground floor and a mezzanine will house shops and restaurants, according to plans.

Mayor Mark Begich has promoted such a mixed-use approach to downtown. He said the Fangs plans prove that high-density, mixed-use development is valid.

"The market is ready for this," he said.

One big concern is what will become of the 4th Avenue Theatre, which abuts the Fifth Avenue tower site.

Theater owner Robert Gottstein, who put the property up for sale last summer, said the Fangs have offered to buy it. He would not provide details and said he does not know what they would do with it.

"There isn't any deal right now," he said.

Gottstein said he has invested more than $3.5 million in the building since he bought it out of foreclosure 15 years ago.

He is chiefly interested, he said, in finding a buyer who will preserve the historical character of the 1940s-era structure.

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