Worried About Rowdy Crowds, Downtown Anchorage Group Opposes Proposed LED Ultra Lounge Move
Business owners and residents in downtown Anchorage are trying to stop the owner of a now-closed nightclub from moving his business and liquor licenses to a new location, where he’ll be closer to more tourists and residents.
Robert Alexander, owner of the former LED Ultra Lounge and Grill, wants to transfer his licenses and move the business to a new site across from the Hilton Anchorage at the corner of Third Avenue and E Street.
Opponents of this initiative call the Downtown Community Council object to the transfer of license in the hope that the city and state will not allow the company to locate there. They recently formed the Downtown Coalition of Concerned Citizens to stop it, said Russ Reno, a member of the group and owner of Anchorage Downtown TourGroup, offering tours around Anchorage.
“We don’t want tourists who will be woken up at 11 p.m. when people start partying there and making noise,” Reno said.
The members of the group presented a resolution to the council that says shootings, drug use, public urination and other issues have occurred near the LED Lounge, which operated until 3 a.m. on weekend nights. Some people are also concerned about Alexander’s previous run-ins with the law; there is currently a criminal case against him that could affect his licenses.
Alexander denies numerous counter allegations resolution to the council, and says he is confident that he will not be convicted in the case.
The LED Ultra Lounge closed last year after seven years of operation at its former site, Sixth Avenue and I Street, near the Captain Cook Hotel. The closure came about because a new owner, Bean’s Cafe, bought the building that houses it, Alexander said. in an interview.
Alexander said he made every effort to run the LED Lounge in a safe and clean manner, including chasing customers and cleaning the parking lots himself whenever it closed.
Alexander, a military veteran who moved to Anchorage in 1986, said he felt unfairly targeted. Other bars also had trouble outside their gates, but were less scrutinized by the town center council, he said.
The new spot could feature a DJ and live music, possibly every night from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., on apps to say. Alexander also plans to reopen the Tri-Grill restaurant that operated for a few years at the previous location, so the LED lounge will attract a large clientele, he said.
Alexander said he plans to take extra precautions to ensure he is a good neighbor. He plans to control noise, employ more security guards, instead of nine in the old LED lounge, and install a metal detector to stop guns at the door.
Bob Neumann, owner of the 26-room Historic Anchorage hotel across from the proposed site, said a nightclub would be a problem in the area.
He previously owned Rumrunners Old Towne Bar and Grill, a former nightclub on 4th Avenue and E Street, before selling it to Anchorage restaurateurs Abraham and Basilio Gallo. about 15 years ago, he says. Nightclub patrons are a difficult crowd to control, Neumann said.
A bar won’t do well with guests at the Hilton Anchorage, which has 600 rooms, and the nearby Turnagain Arm Condo, with many residents, Neumann said.
“It’s going to be tough,” Neumann said. “They will be sleeping guests waking up in the middle of the night. It’ll make rubber squeal as you exit the parking lot.
Alexander petitioned the Office of Alcohol and Marijuana Control last month to transfer two liquor licenses for the LED Ultra Lounge and Grill. The Downtown Community Council plans to meet March 9 to consider making a recommendation on the transfer to the Liquor Control Commission, as well as the Anchorage Assembly, which must consider a special land use permit for the move.
Mike Ward, co-owner of the downtown Pioneer Bar and vice-chairman of the Downtown Community Council, said the council wants to support all downtown businesses, including bars that operate responsibly. He said he did not take a personal position on the LED Lounge proposal.
“I would like to think that moving to a new location, that he can run a responsible business,” he said.
Chris Constant, Assemblyman for Downtown, said a key part of the dispute is that the lounge generated an unusual number of complaints at its previous location, although few residents and businesses were there. directly nearby. There will be more chances of complaints in this new area, said Constant, who said he didn’t take a position on the transfer.
LED Lounge has not received any violations from the Office of Alcohol and Marijuana Control, an investigator with the state agency said.
Police have received about 50 calls a year, on average, associated with the LED lounge address over its lifetime, according to The figures from the Anchorage Police Department. The LED lounge may not have been involved in every call, according to Renee Oistad, a spokeswoman for the police department – a call for a disturbance outside the facility, or a nearby traffic stop, could have been reported at the address.
Calls were highest in 2019, at 101 calls. They were the slowest in 2020, with a dozen calls, as pandemic-related restrictions limited capacity and bar operations.
Alexander said he made many of these calls himself and should not be penalized for it.
Bridget Sanders runs a small vacation rental business in a building near the former LED Lounge. She said she was not a member of the group opposing the move and she hopes Alexander can keep his business alive in Anchorage.
But the city center, with its tourists, is not the place for the bar, she says.
When LED was open, Sanders’ guests often complained that they were woken up by people screaming and fighting outside the lounge, she said.
“So many bottles and cans of beer would end up in my yard,” she said. “And my guests would say the bass was so loud it rattled the windows of the house.”
When the LED Lounge announced big events, she turned down business because she knew the guests wouldn’t sleep, she said.
Alexander acknowledges in his resolution that a few shootings took place near the old LED Lounge. But one involved someone from another bar, firing bullets into the air. Another happened a block from the LED lounge, not inside as was originally the case reported by the police and the media, he said.
alexander is facing a felony charge in a case that could affect his liquor license, according to state court records. The state charged him with first-degree assault with a serious wound involving a weapon, after shooting a man in 2019 who entered the Big Timber Hotel in East Anchorage.
Alexander’s wife owns the hotel, he said in an interview. He said he entered the building because it was clear it had been broken into. The door was opened, Alexander said, and the man threw something at him. Alexander shot him.
If Alexander is found guilty in the case, he could lose his liquor license, according to State Law.
Alexander said he was confident he would not be found guilty. He refused to say why.
“I’m not going to lose,” he said in a text.