City officials talk “Battleship Polaris”

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The inside of the Polaris Building as seen in December 2013.

A move to tear down the Polaris Building continues to gain momentum. City officials gave an update during a meeting of the Downtown Association’s Board of Directors.

The building is a hazmat catastrophe full of green and black mold, said City Councilman David Pruhs, who is also chairman of the Polaris Building Work Group. The group is spearheading community efforts to demolish the building that is currently owned by Marc Marlow.

The City of Fairbanks condemned the building in 2012, but lacks the money to knock it down. The cost to demolish the building is between $4-6M. The best hope for securing funding lies with the federal government, according to Pruhs. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan are aware of the building’s plight and have a staff presence on the work group.

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A view of the doorway leading out from the Polaris’ basement.

Pruhs said that federal funding may be easier to get if the City owns the building outright. Earlier this year, the City paid current deed holder James Baum $15,000 for the option to buy the deed for an extra $115,000 within two years.

Despite receiving tax concessions, Marlow’s debt and reputation have made him no longer bankable. “He’s received every accommodation,” Pruhs said.

The “Battleship Polaris” requires “shock therapy,” Pruhs added.

Another boon to the project? Mayor Karl Kassel said the borough will allow the city to use its landfill for Polaris debris. The fee waiver may shave a million dollars off the project.

A study by Explore Fairbanks will help determine what could go in the building’s place.

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Detritus inside the Polaris Building marked “Northern Lights Hotel 7.”