Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Assembly, Aspen agree: $215K for lot


The Haines Borough Assembly introduced an ordinance Tuesday that puts a $215,000 negotiated price tag on 1.2 acres of downtown property intended for construction of an Aspen Hotel.

Aspen Management LLC submitted an application in July to purchase two lots of the old primary school land bordering Main Street at Fifth Avenue. The company is proposing to build a two-story hotel with 49 to 54 rooms and 48 parking spaces. The 31,000-square-foot building would include a 600-square-foot meeting room.

The assembly will have its first public hearing on the negotiated contract with Aspen Hotels at its Feb. 11 meeting.

The 10-page contract outlines conditions Aspen and the borough must meet prior to and after sale of the property. For instance, the borough must obtain a “no further remedial action” letter from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation prior to the sale.

The borough is currently engaged in a contract with Chilkat Environmental Services to determine whether an old leaking diesel tank at the primary school (which used to stand on the property) has contaminated any water or soil on the site.

Once sold though, the borough “shall have no obligation to remediate or to incur any expense in connection with any environmental contamination and/or hazardous substances of any kind on the property including, but not limited to the prior contamination,” the contract states.

“Any remediation of any such environmental contamination or hazardous substances or prior contamination at any time shall be at (the) buyer’s sole cost or expense,” with a few exceptions, the document reads. “The buyer purchases the property ‘as is’ and ‘where is’ and assumes the responsibility and risks of all defects and conditions of the property including the prior contamination.”

The contract also ensures Aspen Hotels actually complete construction of a hotel within three years of buying the property. Aspen is also required by the contract to invest at least $3 million on construction of the hotel.

Though various stakeholders in the community have debated the potential benefits and drawbacks of using the Main Street site since the company announced its intentions to do so last summer, no members of the public testified at Tuesday’s meeting.

However, the borough did receive a letter of support from Brian Elliott, who wrote construction of the hotel would guide Haines toward progress and development of its economic resources.

“As a coach and a parent, I am concerned about our shrinking school size and declining economy in Haines, and something like a well-established, reputable business can help restore some of the economic base we have lost over the past several years,” Elliott wrote.

The company has developed 10 hotels in Alaska and owns and operates four Aspen Hotels in Anchorage, Juneau, Kenai and Soldotna.

Aspen Hotels President George Swift has not returned multiple calls and emails for comment.