CBJ moves toward senior housing

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Senior housing assisted living proposal include proposals for a land purchase, tax abatement and a competitive process.

    Chief Housing Officer Scott Ciambor said the effort to add senior housing has lasted for over nine years.  It began with a 2010 senior needs assessment.  In 2013 an assisted living task force was put together.  in 2014 Juneau conducted a senior housing and services market demand study.  In 2017 there was an economic impact study done on an assisted living project at Vintage Park.

    Developers haven't been able to secure financing for the project.  They mentioned high land, construction and development costs.  The property measures 2.39 acres and is zoned mixed use.  The most recent appraised value was just under $1.52 million.  An updated appraisal is in the works and should be available in mid-May.

    Ciambor urged the Committee of the Whole to forward the land purchase to the finance committee to put on the pending list for the fiscal year 2020 budget.  The committee agreed with the recommendation.

    Another element of senior housing is the property tax abatement.  The CBJ housing plan is trying to spur development of different types of housing in the community.  They include senior housing, larger projects and multiple downtown projects.

    Issues in the abatement include where in the borough to offer incentives, the length, and the amount.  Another issue is low income eligibility.

    City Manager Rorie Watt said you must balance the desire for the housing versus the demand for municipal services and the impacts on tax revenue.  "They will still need services of the police department, the fire department, and use our recreational facilities.  It is foregoing revenue we would not collect but still there is a demand on services."

    Assembly member Rob Edwardson said economic development is expected to bring new people in and create new jobs.  He said the state law that allows for tax abatements will require the CBJ to prove this will provide economic benefits.

    Ciambor said Alaska has a market for senior housing.  He added there is a need for more senior housing here.  For-profit organizations are mostly the ones developing senior housing.

    Assembly member Michele Bonnet-Hale said a tax abatement of senior housing could be a test on how other tax abatements could work in Juneau.  "We don't have enough places for Juneau to live now. If we build this assisted living facility this could free up places that are of reasonable costs for people to move into."

    Hale said a lot of seniors are leaving Juneau and their savings and income are leaving too.  "We cannot take care of the people that need places to stay and need care.  I think we can over analyze this."

    Vice Mayor Maria Gladziszewski said when two or more developers claim a project is not financially viable she tends to agree with them.

    Assembly member Loren Jones said the senior population continues to rise in Juneau.  He asked the staff to look long term on the property tax base for up to 10 to 15 years.  He said he worried that the tax base will remain healthy into the future if the population continues to age.

    Mr. Watt agreed the CBJ must analyze the impacts of the decision long term on the financial picture of the CBJ.

    Staff were directed to continue to develop further all tax abatements on housing with a focus on senior housing abatements.  Another discussion was scheduled for May 20.

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