Juneau, Alaska (KINY) The Juneau Docks and Harbors Board voted 6-1 last night to approve the Urban Design Plan for Marine Park to Taku Dock.
Port Engineer Gary Gillette said the estimated cost of the project is $17 million. The CBJ could work with the owner of the Archipelago Property, Morris Communications, to develop the property. The CBJ does own a percentage of the land in the project area.
The Board did opt to recommend deletion of a a 150 foot long dock that might impact floating planes and create a safety hazard.
The project now goes before the Assembly Committee of the Whole on Monday night, December 4th, for their review.
Some concerns raised on the project include finding more ways to have locals come downtown, finding space for popular food vendors and carts as well as small fledging businesses, and finding a way to avoid congestion of cruise ship passengers. Other priorities included a covered area during rainy days, more parking and additional restrooms.
Mr. Gillette said at a November meeting that the food carts on the Archipelago property rent a parking space. Some use four or five spaces. "It is not realistic to dedicate that much square footage of that valuable property for the level of development and investment the food cart owners put in."
Deb Bergmann, in an email to Mr. Gillette, raised some concern about space for food vendors, "I don't see much space to include the shops that have been operating there for several years, especially the food vendors." She said The Alaskan Crepe Escape employees 12-15 high school and college students every summer. "Please don't squeeze out all the young people who have opened businesses there in the last several years. They have all been very popular places to go and with all the people who work in the downtown shops we need those options. Please make more space for them."
Businessman Mark Heumann said he felt the project would enhance the waterfront, "I think its a positive thing that they are considering public private partnerships and I'd like to see them do more of that."
Other public comments included a desire to make the downtown community more vibrant with shops, cleaners, hardware store, outfitters and grocery store that cater to local residents.
Brianne Mecum, in an email to the city, encouraged them to prioritize local business. "Juneauites are sick and tired of a downtown area that continues to be taken over the by cruise ship industry. In order to create a flourishing downtown area, you must also give locals a reason to patronize the area. We can create a downtown that Juneauites want to patronize year round and that will also sustain our growing tourist economy."
Gillette said they have considered ways to attract more locals with projects like an IMAX theatre, a family science center and even an Light over Alaska venue.
The Docks and Harbors Board also approved the 2019 capital improvement project list for consideration by the Assembly. $8.76 million is requested for docks like $7 million for the Archipelago Property for acquisition and development, $500,000 for downtown restroom construction, and $300,000 for security checkpoint shelters. $1.48 million is requested for harbor projects like $333,000 to improve safety at Statter Harbor breakwater.