Local News

Property sales narrow – but don't close – SJ debt gap

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SITKA, ALASKA
Sheldon Jackson closed in the summer of 2007 with debt that eventually topped $12-million. Land sales along the Indian River uplands took the first bite out of that debt. The trustees then subdivided the more developed areas of the campus and began a series of smaller sales, most recently:

 –The Armstrong administration building, was sold to Youth Advocates of Sitka. –Stevenson Hall was sold to the Sitka Summer Music Festival.
–The SJ Daycare Center was transferred to the nonprofit entity that has been running it. No money changed hands, but the lot just north of the daycare has been sold for the construction of a private residence.
–The Sage Building and Hatchery were sold to the Sitka Sound Science Center.

Those sales left a debt of about $4.3 million to Alaska Growth Capital. However, the SJ trustees accrue interest debt of about $18,000 a month. The sale of Stratton Library is one of three remaining large transactions that will nearly clear the debt.

–Stratton has been appraised at just over $2-million and will likely sell for that amount to the Alaska State Museum.
–Sitka Counseling and Alcohol Prevention Services, known as “SCAPS,” is buying the four apartment buildings that once housed the college’s married students. The sale should net $1.6 million.
— The Southeast Land Trust is buying the waterfront land between the Sage Building and Sitka National Historical Park for $600,000. The sale will be used by the city of Sitka to mitigate the loss of wetlands when the airport runway area is expanded.

Sitka voters in October rejected a ballot initiative to buy the Hames PE Center. That would have brought in $500,000.

This leaves about $650,000 in debt to Alaska Growth Capital, and $620,000 in unsecured debt to various local vendors. SJ campus manager John Holst is optimistic that Alaska Growth Capital, which is a subsidiary of the Native-owned Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, will forgive the balance owed. Earlier this fall, Holst told a meeting on campus for an update that SJ trustees planned to appeal to SJ alumni and elders involved in the board and management of ASRC.
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