Princess to build $10 million lodge on UA-acquired land

Posted: Friday, June 16, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Princess is looking at design plans for a $10 million lodge to be built next to the largest national park in the United States on land it bought from the University of Alaska.

Construction is slated to begin this summer on the 100-room Copper River Princess Lodge, to be situated on 234 acres at the edge of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, the Seattle-based Princess Tours said Friday.

The lodge will be built at the junction of the Copper and Klutina Rivers on a rise that takes advantage of stunning views of the Copper River Valley and Mount Wrangell, Mount Drum and Mount Blackburn, said Dean Brown, president of Princess Tours.

''It is an incredible view,'' Brown said. ''It is so well elevated you get the broad expanse of the Wrangell-St. Elias mountains.''

Princess bought the land earlier this year from the University of Alaska for $800,000 and the promise of a $200,000 gift, said university spokesman Bob Miller.

The university received four bids for the land but felt all the offers were too low. The bidders were told to ''enhance'' their offers and Princess did it with a $200,000 gift to the university, Miller said.

The gift could cost the company only $50,000 under the state education tax credit used by corporations to reduce their corporate incomes taxes, said Larry Persily, deputy commisssioner of the Department of Revenue.

The law allows corporations to reduce their annual tax bill by up to $150,000 on donations of $200,000 to public and private colleges and universities in Alaska.

Cruise ships are exempt from corporate income taxes but their land-based operations aren't, Persily said.

Corporations reduced their income taxes to be paid to the state of Alaska by $2.5 million in fiscal 1999 and $2.7 million in fiscal 1998.

Brown presented the check Thursday to University of Alaska President Mark Hamilton.

The university acquired the 234 acres as part of a 1984 settlement of a lawsuit it filed against the state. The university sued over management of lands that were transferred to the state from the federal government, Miller said.

The university owns 166,000 acres throughout Alaska, of which 112,000 came from the federal government.

Dean said since 1987 Princess has invested about $125 million in building riverside lodges in Alaska. The Copper River Princess Lodge, which will look part Alaska mining building, is the company's fifth lodge and one of its smaller projects. It joins the Kenai Princess Lodge, Mount McKinley Princess Lodge, Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge and the largest, the Denali Princess Lodge with 353 rooms.

''We think this is a major investment in the region,'' Brown said.

The decision to build a lodge was influenced in part by the building of a new Wrangell-St. Elias visitors center. The National Park Service is opening the center in 2002.

The lodge will provide about 100 jobs a year. Brown said Princess hopes to hire locally and probably will have to build some company housing.

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