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Owners of 2-year-old The Inn At Whittier (Alaska) In Arrears;
Foreclosure Set for May 2, 2006

By Sarana Schell, Anchorage Daily News, Alaska
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News 

March 29, 2006 -  For sale, maybe: lovely high-end hotel in gorgeous setting, cheap. 

Owners of 2-year-old The Inn At Whittier, a 25-room hotel and restaurant, are in default, said lender First National Bank Alaska. A foreclosure auction is set for 10:30 a.m. May 2 at the state courthouse in downtown Anchorage.

"I've been told by the owners that it's not going to get to that point," said Guy Olsen, general manager of the inn, which features log beams, New England-style siding and a circular staircase. Owners of the inn were not available for comment Tuesday afternoon.

First National will work with the current owners until a half-hour before the sale, said spokeswoman Cheri Gillian. The bank has set a minimum bid of $1.67 million, payable in cash or by certified check, to cover the remainder of the bank's loan, Gillian said. 

The property appraised last summer at $4.9 million, Gillian said. 

"It's high-end. It's a touch of New York in Whittier," said longtime resident June Miller. "It's lovely."

Miller and her husband, Ken, own June's Whittier Condo Suites, and Bread & Butter Charters and Bed & Breakfast. They've run the charter business for 15 years, she said, and added the hospitality side 14 years ago.

"There was such a need for hotel rooms," said Miller, who rents condos with a view at the top of the 15-story Begich Tower, where most of the town's residents live. "We were the best place to stay until The Inn At Whittier."

There's still a shortage of rooms in Whittier, Miller said, so big events like weddings or corporate retreats take up all available space. 
"That's why it's so important the inn makes it."

Whittier is seaport about an hour south of Anchorage.

The number of visitors has been growing, said city manager Mark Earnest, especially since 2000 when the only access via land, a railroad tunnel, was modified to also handle cars.

"550,000 people went through last summer," Earnest said. "Whittier's really taking off."

Besides increasing tunnel traffic, Whittier welcomed back cruise ships in 2004.

The inn was a pioneering project in Whittier, Earnest said, as the city's first stand-alone hotel.

"It's a head-turner," City Councilman Peter Denmark said of the inn. 

Denmark said work on the inn started in 2001 on raw land. 

The hotel opened in July 2004 and went into foreclosure at the end of January. It remains open Wednesday through Sunday, on winter hours, said manager Olsen. Hernandez & Associates of Anchorage owns 70 percent of the company; Kirk Loeffler of Girdwood owns the rest.

Earnest said the city hopes the hotel and restaurant will stay open.

"It's a valuable asset in the community," he said.

As a Plan B, he said, Whittier does need a new city hall. "We need a new harbor office too." 

To see more of the Anchorage Daily News, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to

Copyright (c) 2006, Anchorage Daily News, Alaska

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