Portland bidder backs out of deal to convert Alaska ferry into hotel

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JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The bidder who planned to purchase Alaska’s ferry Taku and turn it into a waterfront hotel and restaurant in Oregon has backed out of the deal.

The sale of the 352-foot surplus vessel was expected to close in early December. But the winning bidder withdrew, citing factors such as regulatory problems in Portland, said Aurah Landau, a spokeswoman for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Facilities.

Portland resident Jonathan Cohen offered $300,000 for the ferry on behalf of KeyMar LLC in September, the Juneau Empire reported Friday. The group of investors planned to transform the mothballed ferry into a floating hotel at a pier in northwest Portland. Their bid was six times higher than the next bid.

The newspaper was unable to reach Cohen for a comment this week.

The state offered the ferry to the second and third highest bidders after the Portland group withdrew in November. The new winning bid of $171,000 was from Jabal Al Lawz Trading Est. of Dubai, Landau said. The deal is still being worked out as the final sales terms and agreements are negotiated, Landau said.

A company spokesman said Wednesday that the state had not given official notice on accepting their bid. The spokesman said the company plans give the ferry a new life in the Philippines.