Home Advocate Anchorage Assembly members advocate for use of former city-owned Golden Lion Hotel as treatment center

Anchorage Assembly members advocate for use of former city-owned Golden Lion Hotel as treatment center

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) – The former Golden Lion Hotel was purchased by the city in December 2020 with the idea that it would be used as an addiction treatment center for up to 100 people. Neighbors were wary of the project, as was Mayor Dave Bronson when he was running for office. Now the mayor says the site is not a good place for a treatment center at all.

On Thursday, the mayor shared a letter from the Alaska Department of Transportation with Anchorage Assembly members stating that the busy intersection of 36th Avenue and the Seward Highway – where the old hotel is located – is also the site of a planned road safety project. The letter stated that if the project was successful, it was highly likely that the state would need to take the property to complete the pending project.

“After consulting with the Law Department based on this new information from the DOT and PF to possibly take ownership of the Golden Lion Hotel, it makes no sense to set up a treatment facility in a location that will be swept away” , Bronson wrote in an email.

But some members of the assembly disagree, pointing out that the project is estimated at $100 million and is by no means certain as it could be years before it starts.

“It’s not funded, it’s not even funded for the final design, it’s not in the state’s transportation improvement plan,” assembly member Meg Zaletel said. “It’s all very speculative until we know there’s money for design, let alone money for construction.”

Department of Transport spokesman Justin Shelby agreed the project still has some way to go before it becomes a reality.

“We need this project added to the state’s priority list in order to receive federal funding,” Shelby said. “Once that happens, under ideal circumstances, we’re looking at five years before construction.”

Zaletel said the uncertainty surrounding the project should not stop the city from moving forward with a treatment center in the old hotel, and she criticized the administration’s stance.

“I think it’s an inappropriate letter,” Zaletel said. “It’s a way to kick the box down the road to the Golden Lion, instead of opening it up for much needed drug treatment, which was the intention, that’s the intention of the money that was used to buy it.”

Also representing District 4, Assemblyman Felix Rivera pitches another idea for the facility.

“We know we have a crisis right now with 350 people homeless, so why don’t we see the Golden Lion as an emergency shelter response, so we don’t have to use the leisure centers Spenard or Fairview,” Rivera said. in an interview on Friday.

Rivera asked the Emergency Shelter Task Force to consider the idea, which indicated it would.

The Bronson administration did not respond to a specific question about the former hotel’s use as a temporary emergency shelter. However, spokesman Corey Allen Yount sent a statement saying the mayor supports providing treatment services to people who need them.

“As part of due diligence, the administration supports the upcoming opening of treatment centers with Providence and the Salvation Army and is evaluating other possible locations and options to meet addiction treatment and current needs. from the community.”