Kenai Landing barges in hotels

Posted: Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Some hotels were floating in Cook Inlet on Monday. There were no guests in them, but there will be soon.

Kenai Landing was in the process of shipping two hotel buildings from Homer to Kenai on a barge to get the new multiuse destination resort ready for its grand opening May 12.

One of the buildings is 124 feet long; the other is 84 feet. Both were sitting on one barge. Combined there are 16 hotel units ready to be offloaded on a dock and installed at a site overlooking the Kenai River.

"It's absolutely huge," said Jon Faulkner, co-owner of Kenai Landing. "There's nothing rinky-dink about it."

Kenai Landing is the old Ward's Cove cannery that closed in 1997.

The facility was purchased by Faulkner and Steve Agni, who have spent the past year and millions of dollars turning old buildings made of corrugated iron and run-down bunkhouses into a renovated historic site where visitors can eat at a restaurant, shop for souvenirs, watch a movie or stay in a hotel.

There also will be an independent dock for commercial fishers and a custom seafood processor to process fish. This is only a sampling of what will be offered.

"It's like remodeling a small town," Agni said.

While Kenai Landing is slated to open next month, Faulkner said work on the facility will be ongoing and probably never be completely finished.

In the final weeks before the grand opening, employees are attending to details. For example, historic road signs are being prepared, the 200-seat theater is almost finished and hotel units weighing more than 100 tons are being installed.

The hotels floating in the inlet waiting for delivery were first class beach-front units at Land's End Resort in Homer, Faulkner said, adding they were no longer needed in Homer. Prime riverfront property at Kenai Landing made it a perfect resting place for them, Faulkner said.

A handful of employees milled around the 64-acre complex Monday getting it ready for the opening.

The barge was drifting in the inlet, waiting for the tide to rise so it could enter the mouth of the river and unload its cargo.

Faulkner said Monday that the hotels were scheduled to be unloaded early this morning.

A coordinated effort was under way to get everything ready. A backhoe was digging out a space on the tidal flats to build a new boat launch. That area also will allow the barge to deliver the hotels.

The plan is to roll the hotels off the barge using three 35-ton ramps, Faulkner said.

"The weights that you're dealing with are pretty dramatic," he said.

"We pretty much worked all night until this morning," Tony Miller, facility caretaker for Kenai Landing, said Monday about preparing the boat launch.

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