Polaris Building 2020

The abandoned Polaris building is considered by locals to be an eyesore of downtown Fairbanks. City officials are looking at ways to collaborate with the Innovative Readiness Training program as a means to demolish the building. Alena Naiden/News-Miner

In another attempt to get rid of the blight of Fairbanks — the Polaris Building — the city is considering asking the federal government to help fund the community project.

On Tuesday, the Fairbanks City Council discussed a potential resolution requesting funding from the federal infrastructure bill to get rid of the building.

“It will be a resolution requesting our congressional delegation earmark funds from the infrastructure bill be put in place to demolish the Polaris Building,” the chairman of the Polaris Building Group, David Pruhs, wrote in an email to the News-Miner.

For years, the Polaris Building Group has been struggling to fund the project that costs about $10 million, according to their estimates. The caveat is that before demolition, the building needs to be decontaminated, and then the city would need to get rid of the waste and take it down story by story, city environmental manager Andrew Ackerman said.

“You can’t just implode the building with all the hazardous materials inside of it,” he said.

To tackle the expensive demolition, the city has been looking at state and federal funding. This year, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Sen. Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young expressed their support for the project and said funding should come out of the infrastructure bill, Pruhs said.

“The infrastructure bill is our chance,” he said. “This is it.”

City Mayor Jim Matherly and several councilmembers, including Valerie Therrien, Shoshana Kun and June Rogers, spoke in support of the idea.

“I have real good confidence in going forward because of the (supportive) statement by Don Young,” said councilmember June Rogers.

Last month, the city discussed an idea to put the demolition project up for bids from private companies who want to take over the demolition and assume ownership over the building. A chosen company would need a $2 million bond for a three-year demolition, and if completed, the city would pay the company back and grant them the ownership of the property.

Councilmember Jim Clark proposed the private bids idea and explained that the cost of demolition might be lower than the city estimated.

“There are really two thoughts when it comes to Polaris Building,” Clark said. One is the idea he put forward, and another one is “to wait for the government to do it, which means more money but a longer wait time,” he explained.

“It’s gonna be either or, and everything is on the table,” he said. “I am interested in getting it down, and if that’s what it takes, I’m on board.”

The city is currently preparing two resolutions relating to the Polaris Building, though neither one of them will be on the agenda for Monday’s City Council meeting, City’s Communications Director Teal Soden said. Instead, the resolutions will be discussed at a special finance meeting Tuesday at 7 a.m. in Council Chambers at 800 Cushman St.

The Monday City Council meeting invites the public to share their testimonies, and the Tuesday meeting is open to the public attendance, virtual and in-person.

Contact staff writer Alena Naiden at 459-7587. Follow her at twitter.com/FDNMlocal.