CBJ encouraged to invest in senior housing

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Housing remains in short supply and the CBJ might think outside the box to develop senior housing.

    Several senior housing developers have attempted to put together a senior housing project that includes assisted living, dementia care and hospice services on property in Vintage Park.  In each attempt, the developers approached the CBJ for assistance in the form of grants and loans, tax abatement or other support.

    Chief Housing Officer Scott Ciambor said it has become clear that a senior housing project will not advance without significant incentives.  He suggested the CBJ purchase the Vintage Park property as an investment into senior housing.

    The current owner, Bayshire Senior Living, expressed a willingness to participate in a request for proposal process if CBJ purchases the property.  The property cost is $1.5 million.

    Ciambor said the CBJ could create some kind of competitive process for developers and propose incentive packages that include property tax abatement, a favorable land lease rate, and a grant or loan from the either the Affordable Housing Fund or other CBJ funds.

    Ciambor also mentioned the CBJ taking ownership of derelict housing, cleaning them up, and reselling them.

    He said a goal is to create more housing in the community.  "There are a lot of benefits when the city has a stake in the game."

    City Manager Rorie Watt said there is a lot of uncertainty with the state budget.   He told the committee he doesn't want uncertainty to stop the CBJ from working on their priorities,  "We won't know if we have money for this.  My mind set is to keep working on things we are working on and advance the ball, press forward as much as we can."

    Watt said this would mean the CBJ owns the property and then accepts proposals from developers.  The CBJ could designate the land for use for senior housing, and offer incentives, and then review the proposal and decide the one that best suit the needs of the CBJ.

    He said there have been three developers who have had interest in the property.  In each case the CBJ had to ask the question, why should we give this developer incentives.

    "If we don't take control of the property we will always be stuck with this, why should this developer get incentives?"

    "This piece of land has been a good site for senior housing for at least five years.  That is unlikely to change.  The intention for tonight is to have this discussion and get the Assembly to warm up to the idea."

    Ciambor said he expects this formula to come up again when the idea of creating downtown housing comes up.

    Assembly Member Michele Bonnet-Hale questioned whether erosion would impact this property since it is located near the Mendenhall River.

    The CBJ Lands and Resources Committee directed staff to keep working on the concept.



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