JUNEAU, Alaska — The high bidder for Alaska's ferry Taku wants to turn the 352-foot vessel into a waterfront hotel and restaurant in Oregon.
Portland resident Jonathan Cohen's $300,000 bid on Friday was six times higher than the next bid, The Juneau Empire reported. Cohen represents a group of Portland investors who want to make the ferry a floating hotel at a pier in northwest Portland.
"Our hope is to bring it to Portland, Oregon, where we're based and to use it as a way to give this very historic vessel a second life," Cohen said.
The Taku would be home to hostel-style accommodations as well as individual rooms, with the surrounding pier being a terminal for river-related activities, he said.
"We're not looking to offer high-end hotel rooms," Cohen said. "We're actually looking to make these the least-expensive hotel rooms in town."
The Taku's open car deck might be converted into a space for a farmers' market or small businesses if Cohen's bid wins, he said. The lounges could become spaces for "digital nomads" who need working room.
"Everyone has just been so positive about this boat, and I think it just has such a wonderful energy about it, and we want to keep that going," he said.
The Alaska Department of Transportation entertained three offers — all below its reserve price of $350,000 — and is in the process of selecting a winner.
The No. 2 bid, of $50,400, came from Ben Evans of New Zealand. Evans is a buyer for Jabal Al Lawz Trading Est. of Dubai, which scraps ships in India.
The No. 3 bid, at $50,000, was from Indra Goundar of Vancouver. Subarmani Goundar operates a ferry service in Fiji and said he would operate the Taku alongside the other ships in his four-vessel inter-island ferry operation.