Deal nearly finished to move church into failed fish plant

A deal to sell a vacant seafood plant to a faith-based nonprofit group for $24.5 million should close before summer, according to officials with the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority.

"It’s a very complex transaction," said Jim McMillan, deputy director for credit and business development at AIDEA. "They are putting $4 million down, and we expect the closing to be around the end of May or the first of June."

The actual sale will be to Anchorage Community Development Corp., a limited liability corporation formed by Grace Alaska and Changepoint.

Grace Alaska, a nonprofit corporation affiliated with Changepoint, an evangelical Christian church, agreed March 17 to pay $24.5 million for the facility, in partnership with Wisconsin-based Alliance Development Corp.


Grace Alaska and partners reached an agreement for the purchase of the failed Alaska Seafood International seafood plant for $24.5 million. The plant has been maintained by the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, which financed nearly $50 million for the building of the facility.
AIDEA in the late 1990s financed nearly $50 million of the facility, which was built to lease to a firm that planned to produce value-added seafood from raw wild fish.

After several efforts, Alaska Seafood International folded in the fall of 2003, leaving AIDEA with the facility. "It’s been costing AIDEA $50,000 a month since then for holding costs, including utilities, insurance, assessments and property management, McMillan said.

Grace Alaska now has 60 days to study the proposal further, with a right to terminate the agreement during that time period. McMillan said he doesn’t foresee that happening.

Scott Merriner, president of Grace Alaska, said his group has already invested more than $400,000 in legal, architectural and engineering fees. "This is tangible evidence that we expect this to turn out to be a win-win for the state and ourselves," he said.

"We would like to begin remodeling the existing facility and construction of a separate, domed sports complex on the day they close the deal," he said. Terry Fike’s Alcan General Contracting will do the design-build project.

A separate nonprofit corporation plans to lease property from Anchorage Community Development to construct the 177,000-square-foot sports complex and operate it, Merriner said. That effort is being spearheaded by Gene Desjarlsais. The sports complex will include a full-sized football field. "We hope to have it open in October," he said.

Still, before the closing, there are complex arrangements to work out, McMillan said. AIDEA is in the process of negotiating terms and conditions for an amended and restated ground lease, that would allow owners of the cold-storage facility to purchase the ground it sits on, plus additional ground for expansion, he said.

Plans from the outset were that Sysco Food Services would use part of the cold storage facility. Sysco needed additional space and it plans to expand the cold storage facility a bit, McMillan said.

While the AIDEA board has approved sale of the seafood plant, the board did not approve an amended ground lease with Alliance Development prior to the closing.

"What we are going to do is put out a public notice," McMillan said. "The plan is on May 13 to have a board meeting and for the board to approve alternative disposition. If all of that goes through, then prior to closing the deal, we will execute the amendment restating the ground lease with Alliance Development."

It’s been almost eight months to the day from the time the board accepted the offer, McMillan said. "We were not only negotiating the sale, but the financing and terms and conditions of the financing.

"I don’t think anybody thought it would take us eight months to do this. It was long and sometimes very intense negotiations, but in the end we all came to agreement, and that’s what’s most important."

Margie Bauman can be reached at [email protected].

03/27/2005 - 8:00pm