ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The embodiment of an Alaska cliche is for sale.
The massive urethane igloo that's a must-stop for summer tourists heading up the Parks Highway en route to Denali National Park and Preserve from Anchorage can be had for $300,000.
The 80-foot high structure was erected more than four decades ago over a shell of plywood and two-by-sixes, and was never completed on a 38-acre site, which is part of the sales package. The igloo, which shows its age, has never been anything more than a magnet for cameras and vandals, who set off firecrackers in its cavernous interior before it was boarded up.
But for someone with lots of money to spare, property owner Brad Fisher sees great possibilities for the picturesque location in Alaska's interior. The site, 20 miles from the nearest community at Cantwell, is prime snowmobiling country in winter and hiking in summer, a land of rolling hills and willows surrounded by mountains and splendid views.
Fisher, 55, envisions the igloo as an eye-catching seasonal restaurant and hotel run on green power.
Here's the catch: Creating a viable business could run a new owner at least a couple million bucks to get it ready and up to code.
For one thing, there is no available electricity around, which demands additional costs. According to an estimate 15 years ago, putting in a utility substation would cost $1.3 million. Fisher thinks powering it with such innovations as solar panels and windmills is the more affordable way to go.
It sure would be a shame to see the igloo go to waste, he said.
"If you had the money to get it going, I have no doubt that you could make money there just because of where it is," he said. "I mean, everybody stops and looks at it."
It's a total surprise for tourists who encounter the 105-foot- wide igloo as they tour the interior and the national park on excursion buses, such as those run by Holland America-Princess for cruise ship travelers. Spokesman Charlie Ball said that if bus drivers have time, they'll stop for tourists to snap some photographs of the bulbous structure.
"It's always been a curiosity for our guests," he said. "It's always been a uniquely Alaskan desired photo stop."
Fisher, who has owned the igloo since 1996 through his family business, Fisher's Fuels Inc., rented out four nearby cabins and ran a single fuel pump at the site until 2005.
The property has been for sale off and on for six years. If Fisher has no takers this time around, there are no plans to demolish it. In fact, at some point, Fisher said he would like to recoat it for weather-proofing.
"It's just there to stay," he said.
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