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ABC Board rejects license renewal for embattled Anchorage liquor store

The embattled Spirits of Alaska liquor store in Anchorage's Fairview neighborhood is closed, effectively immediately, after the Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board voted Wednesday not to renew the store's license to sell alcohol.

The decision comes after the Anchorage Assembly this month took the highly unusual step of protesting the liquor license renewal. It caps a years-long effort by the Fairview Community Council to change or rid the neighborhood of a store it viewed as a nexus of criminal activity and public inebriation.

On Wednesday, the ABC Board was asked to determine whether the city's formal protest of the license renewal on April 14 was "arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable."

They found it was not. Only one board member, Thomas Manning from Juneau, dissented.

Spirits of Alaska owner Bridget Thompson and her attorney husband, Darryl Thompson, argued they had been denied due process and hadn't been able to communicate her side of the story to Assembly members.

Darryl Thompson said it was unfair to "attribute the sins of the city to this particular license."

He also questioned testimony linking the store's management with activity taking place off-premises.

More than a half-dozen Fairview residents and other members of the public testified at the packed meeting, held at the Legislative Information Office building in downtown Anchorage.

"Closing Spirits of Alaska would not solve all the social issues but it would help us property owners take back our neighborhood," said Pat Krochina, a Fairview business owner.

The board's decision not to renew means the license is essentially "dead" and can't be sold, said Cynthia Franklin, the ABC Board director.

Spirits of Alaska had posted signs by 1 p.m. telling customers it was closed indefinitely. The store has been operating on Gambell Street for 20 years, Bridget Thompson said.

Five employees would be losing their jobs, she said.

Darryl Thompson said the decision could set a troubling precedent under which community problems "far beyond the scope" of a business could be attributed to it.

Bridget Thompson and her husband said they planned to appeal the decision.

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