By Sophie Minich, CIRI president and chief executive officer
“The new CIRI office building was completed late last year – ahead of schedule and under budget. I believe we can all be proud of this project. We have demonstrated our ability to successfully build, from start to finish, a large, complex project like this without any major difficulty. Starting with raw land, we assembled the building construction team, secured the financing from a major insurance company at highly favorable rates and developed a successful leasing program. This high quality building adds another significant long-term source of income to our portfolio.” – 1977 CIRI ANNUAL REPORT BY FORMER CIRI PRESIDENT ROY HUHNDORF
In 1978, CIRI President Roy Huhndorf wrote the above words for the 1977 CIRI Annual Report. At the time, our company was only six years old, and for most of that time, CIRI headquarters had been located in the former meat locker of an old Piggly Wiggly grocery store on Spenard Road in Anchorage. (Many of you may now know the location today as Play It Again Sports.) Thanks to CIRI’s land entitlements, pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, and smart investments, CIRI was growing quickly. The company needed a home that would accommodate that growth but also allow for continued financial prosperity.
We were a young company that had already seen a great deal of success, and we had an eye on the future. CIRI’s forward-thinking sensibility was embodied in the design of its new headquarters, which was heralded as the first office building in Anchorage to break out of the “box” mold. The reflective glass walls, with their beveled edges and cantilevered corners, gave the building a distinctive shape that made it stand out among the traditional rectangular structures of Anchorage’s skyline.
More than anything, though, the CIRI Building on C Street represented what we, as a company, were capable of accomplishing. Built with the help of shareholders, the CIRI Building became our company’s headquarters and provided a stable source of income as the remaining space was leased. We had not only created a home for CIRI
shareholders, descendants and employees, but invested in our future (see photos here).
Thirty-six years later, CIRI has grown into a corporation that is recognized as a model of business success. Once again, we have an eye on the future, as the new Fireweed Business Center enters its next phase of construction. CIRI is on schedule to relocate to its new headquarters in early 2015, and we are actively seeking lessees for the remaining space in the new building.
Like the CIRI Building before it, the Fireweed Business Center will be an innovative building that harnesses the latest technological advancements, maximizes spatial comfort and achieves cost savings through energy efficiency.
Earlier this year, a shareholder mentioned to me that her father had helped with the construction of the CIRI Building in the ’70s. Every time her family drove down C Street, her father would point to the building and say, with pride, “That’s the CIRI Building. That’s your building.”
I’m proud to say that today there are CIRI shareholders and descendants who are swinging steel and scaling the scaffolding, working hard on the completion of our new building. Those shareholders and descendants will soon be able to point to the Fireweed Business Center and tell their children and grandchildren, “That’s your building.”