The owners of the historic 4th Avenue Theatre in downtown Anchorage say they are surveying for structural damage in the aftermath of the Nov. 30 earthquake and taking steps to remove hazardous materials.
Peach Investments renewed a demolition permit for the building this week. Word of the permit activity traveled fast and triggered a flood of concern that the building with the iconic “4th Avenue” sign was being torn down.
That isn’t the case, said Terence Chang of Peach Investments, whose family owns the theater. Chang said the owners first obtained the permit in December 2016 and needed to renew it. He said the permit is only for interior work.
A similar controversy unfolded about this time last year.
The owners need the permit to further evaluate structural damage after the Nov. 30 earthquake, Chang wrote in an emailed statement. He said the theater is in an area susceptible to ground failure, based on seismic maps. He also said the earthquake made his family’s plans to remove hazardous materials from the former theater more urgent.
“This major effort involves interior demolition and disposal of hazardous materials within the floors, walls and ceilings,” Chang wrote.
Other demolition-related activities will include the inspection, assessment and removal of failed and failing building systems, according to Chang.
Chang indicated the theater’s owners were looking at ways to preserve well-known art deco murals inside the theater. The murals show Alaska landscapes, wildlife and industry and are treasured by art lovers.
“The building owners will provide careful consideration to how to maintain the interior artwork, but the most important intent right now is to preserve human life and safety,” Chang wrote.