State, church strike deal for defunct processing plant

Posted: Thursday, July 15, 2004

ANCHORAGE (AP) The state has agreed to sell a defunct fish processing plant to an evangelical church for less than half it cost to build the plant.

ChangePoint, the evangelical Christian church that wants to buy the state-owned Alaska Seafood International plant, has struck a deal for $24.5 million.

The 202,000-square-foot plant, financed by the state for $50 million, was designed as a factory to turn raw fish into prepackaged meals.

If the deal goes through, the property will be used as a church, an indoor sports complex, office space and meeting rooms.

''It's all about people and the improvement of the quality of life in this city and this state,'' said the Rev. Karl Clauson, a pastor with ChangePoint.

The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, the state lending agency responsible for the property, agreed to finance $20.5 million of the total purchase through a five-year loan, deferring all payments for the first year.

In the four years after that, the buyers would be required to make interest payments only. At the end of the five years, they would have the option of paying the full balance or rolling the debt into a longer-term AIDEA loan.

The church group has financial backing from the New Jersey-based Evangelical Christian Credit Union and agreed to make a $4 million down payment on the property, Clauson said.

In all, the group expects the redeveloped fish plant to create more than 500 jobs over the next five years, 180 of which would be in the new indoor sports complex.

The newly formed company that plans to buy the plant, called Anchorage Community Development, also includes Alliance Development Corp., which owns a 30,000-square-foot cold-storage unit next door.

Food wholesaler Sysco Food Services of Seattle is a partner as well, planning to use the cold-storage plant and adjacent warehouse space to expand its Alaska operations.

AIDEA financed the fish plant in the late 1990s as part of a state effort to diversify Alaska's oil-dependent economy.

It cost nearly $50 million and was built specifically for lease to Alaska Seafood International, which planned to turn raw fish into seasoned, heat-and-eat entrees for sale worldwide.

But the company's plan failed. The firm went out of business, and it abandoned the plant last fall.

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