Legislature and developers will meet in court

The developers and owners of a downtown Anchorage office block have opened a legal battle with the Alaska Legislature.

On Tuesday, 716 West Fourth Avenue LLC, a corporation owned by developers Mark Pfeffer and Bob Acree, filed an “appeal from administrative agency” in Anchorage Superior Court.

The appeal is a legal action escalating a disagreement between the developers and the Legislative Council, the body that controls the Legislature’s office space.

Tuesday’s action is the latest step in a long-running furor over 716 West Fourth Avenue, the building that formerly housed the offices of Anchorage lawmakers.

In 2015, an Anchorage Superior Court judge ruled that the Legislature’s 10-year lease for the building — negotiated and signed under the tenure of former Legislative Council chairman Rep. Mike Hawker, R-Anchorage — was illegal and invalid.

In response, 716 West Fourth Avenue filed a complaint through the state’s administrative channels, contending that the Legislative Council’s illegal action cost developers millions of dollars because the renovated the building specifically to meet the Legislature’s needs.

The complaint seeks $37 million in damages from the state of Alaska — an amount roughly equivalent to the cost of the renovated building.

The Legislative Council rejected the developers’ complaint, and now they have escalated it into the court system.

Meanwhile, the Legislature has abandoned the Fourth Avenue building to a $12.5 million office complex purchased last year in Anchorage’s Spenard district.

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