Warehouse tells seafood plant operators to pay or be locked out

Posted: Tuesday, June 24, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) The operator of an Anchorage cold-storage warehouse says Alaska Seafood International is in default on its rental agreement and owes nearly $671,000.

Anchorage attorney David Bundy, in a June 10 letter to ASI on behalf of client Alliance Enterprises, said the fish-processing company must pay the amount due in 30 days or face being locked out of the giant freezer and having its stored goods sold off to cover the rent.

ASI chief executive Doug Bell acknowledged Monday that rent was due but said that his company was trying to work out a settlement. ASI's attorney, Christopher Cyphers, wrote Monday to Alliance denying that ASI is in default.

In another development, a Pennsylvania company developing a french fries vending machine continues to negotiate with state officials for the chance to take over the state-owned factory building.

The state erected the 202,000-square-foot factory building in South Anchorage in the late 1990s for $50 million and signed a 30-year lease with ASI. The freezer warehouse is next to the fish factory.

ASI was to employ up to 450 workers and make millions of pounds of seasoned and breaded entrees from Alaska salmon, halibut and other fish. But the company has stumbled with financing, sales and management problems and today produces only a fraction of the goods originally envisioned. Most of the factory building is empty.

Last month, the administration of Gov. Frank Murkowski declined to commit more cash and free rent to ASI, whose majority owner is Sunrise Capital Partners of New York City. The state is a minority owner of ASI.

Another company, Tasty Fries Inc. of Blue Bell, Pa., has its eye on the factory building as a place to manufacture french fries vending machines. The company's proposal includes a request for at least $100 million in startup financing from the state.

Tasty Fries president Edward Kelly said a company representative would attend a board meeting of the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority next Monday. The authority acts as ASI's landlord on the factory building.

Kelly said Anchorage is a good location because of the factory building, the potential for state financing and Anchorage's access to the Pacific Rim.

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