- Associated Press - Monday, January 5, 2015

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A pending liquor license transfer for a new downtown business is drawing scrutiny from the Anchorage Assembly, following recent shootings, fights and even an unsanctioned street dance party in other downtown areas.

The LED Lounge, which hasn’t officially opened for business, is housed in the building of the former Platinum Jaxx, a nightclub that had a reputation as a bad neighborhood operator. The new business also has a restaurant side, called Tri-Grill.

A group of business and property owners believes the new business would bring the same problems to the neighborhood, KSKA (https://is.gd/GN4Jcc) reported. The Anchorage Downtown Partnership has taken the unusual step of registering its objection to the liquor license transfer being sought by LED Lounge owner and operator Robert Alexander.

“Given the neighborhood’s previous experience, confidence in an incoming operator is really important,” partnership director Chris Schutte said. “Without that confidence there, and without assurances there, perhaps tied to the license transfer, the neighborhood will not feel comfortable with this operator coming in.”

Schutte proposes that conditions be attached to the permit, such as setting a ratio of food alcohol sales, as well as an earlier closing time.

An assembly committee recently met to hear more information about the proposed transfer. Members noted a civil court case that concluded Alexander let his workers compensation insurance lapse in the past. That ruling is under appeal.

“He was assessed a fine of over a million dollars for those violations,” assembly member Bill Evans said after the meeting. “There was a detailed report which shows a lot of dis-concern and a lot of failure to report, failure to cooperate with the board. So that’s been an issue that the assembly is going to at least consider in deciding whether he should be granted the liquor license.”

Alexander, whose business career in Anchorage spans more than 20 years, said his business record is not spotless, but he deserves a chance. He said most of the faults noted by the assembly pertained to a period of rapid expansion, and he has since taken on a director of operations to manage finances.

“I haven’t done anything yet, you know?” Alexander said. “I just hope this whole thing goes away quick so that it becomes old news.”

The assembly is scheduled to vote on the matter in February. Technically, the Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board authorizes such transfers, but it typically differs to decisions made by local governments.

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Information from: KSKA-FM, https://www.kska.org

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