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Downtown Anchorage building getting $41M upgrade after quake

The Associated Press
Downtown Anchorage building getting $41M upgrade after quake

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA — A building in Anchorage that once housed a Key Bank office is undergoing a $41 million renovation inspired by Alaska’s glaciers.

The project developer said the former Key Bank Plaza will be modernized and draped in glass instead of concrete, with an inward-sloping facade above the entrance, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

The nine-floor building that has stood for 50 years was battered and left vacant by the 2018 Anchorage earthquake.

Developer Derrick Chang said the building’s entrance will “look like an ice cave, so you create an Arctic phenomenon.”

“We wanted to capture the Alaska glacier as an inspiration,” Chang said.

The upgraded office building will be larger than the original and seismically reinforced to withstand future earthquakes, Chang said.

Key Bank is no longer a tenant, and the building will be renamed 601 5th Ave.

A key goal of the project is to revitalize downtown Anchorage after many businesses left for newer midtown offices, Chang said.

“We believe it’s the heart of the community, so it’s important to take this step now,” Chang said.

An official tracking the project, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, said it will essentially be a new building.

“Technically, it will be a renovation, but in spirit, it’s a new construction building,” said Andrew Romerdahl, senior director of real estate for Cook Inlet Region Inc.

The ground floor will feature retail and dining space, Romerdahl said.

The mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems will be replaced, along with the stair tower damaged by the magnitude 7.1 earthquake in 2018. Modern elevators and a freight elevator also will be installed, architecture firm Perkins & Will said in a statement.

The improvements will benefit from a 10-year exemption from property taxes for deteriorated properties, which the Anchorage Assembly approved last year.

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