City government buys property near Anchorage's biggest soup kitchen

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) — The Municipality of Anchorage has bought a section of property opposite the city's largest soup kitchen and homeless shelter, potentially leading to the end of a long-running dispute with a nearby business owner.

The Anchorage Daily News reported Sunday that the deal comes with Ron Alleva, the longtime owner of Grubstake Auction.

The property consists of two lots that sit between 3rd and 4th Avenues and Karluk Street. The property is currently rented out by Municipal Light and Power as a storage space. Assemblyman Christopher Constant says that deal would likely stay the same after the sale.

Constant says the purchase of the property for $750,000 was recorded by the Anchorage Assembly last Tuesday but approved earlier in the year. "It was roughly $200,000 below assessed value which is kind of a shame but they made the right choice to sell the property."

"It was the recommendation of my doctor, my attorney and most importantly my family" said, Alleva. "It was the time to get out."

For decades, Alleva has operated his business in the same spot, next to the Brother Francis Shelter and Bean's Cafe. In recent years, he has grown frustrated by the homeless people who come into the area who he says take drugs, deface his property and repeatedly steal from him.

Alleva launched a lawsuit in April against Brother Francis, Bean's Cafe and the Municipality of Anchorage for effectively condemning the value of his property. In 2012, he launched a similar lawsuit which resulted in a cash settlement.

Constant says there is a plan now for the muni to buy Alleva's three lots that adjoin the Brother Francis Shelter and Bean's Cafe. Alleva says the lots would fetch between $1.2 and $1.8 million dollars.

The eventual plan, according to Constant, is to possibly develop expanded services for homeless people and possibly housing in the area.

"I could see the benefit of more services here, I could absolutely, because this is a place they know and they could come," said Lisa Aquino, Executive Director of Catholic Social Services, the nonprofit that runs Brother Francis Shelter. "There is just Brother Francis Shelter and all the services of shelter, case management, and then Bean's Cafe which offers breakfast, lunch and dinner."

Constant doesn't oppose the idea of more services but does question the idea of permanent housing in the area. "I don't think housing is the answer down there. Individuals who are moving out of homelessness should be housed in the community. They should be where there's a grocery store and a bus line and they can meet their basic needs."

Aquino says there could also be the option to expand homeless services across the city as she describes homelessness as a city-wide problem.

With the eventual sale of the lot, Alleva says he plans to move to a hideaway he owns that's only accessible by boat and "hit the reset button" after years of stress and strain.

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