Juneau Assembly evaluates city hall options

    Concepts for the Transit Center (Left) and Whitter property (Right).

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Juneau assembly was provided an overview of the buildings that are candidates to be the capital city's new city hall.

    Public works director Katie Koester presented to the committee of the whole meeting last evening the costs of the two primary locations.

    The price for a city hall atop the 45,970 square foot downtown transit center at Main and Egan is at $43.3 million, while the 46,200 square foot Whitter street property comes in at $38.2 million.

    "This is very early in the cost estimating phase, but the reality is; things are expensive," she said "They've gotten expensive and there's no reason to believe that they will be any cheaper in the future, and the need for this project is also not going to go away."

    Koester went on to explain that the current 70-year-old city hall would require $12 million to get 25 more years of life and that between the 5 city-owned buildings downtown, they pay $820,000 a year on rent.

    Assembly members weighed in, with Mayor Beth Weldon offering her thoughts.

    "I'm not sure which one I like better. I like the parking garage idea because it's more central downtown, we're going to support the restaurants a little bit better. It's just, for lack of better terms, out of the way," Weldon said. "If you go to Whittier, it's a rapidly changing Auke village district, do we really want to put a government building in the middle of that and let private entities fight it out whether they have apartment buildings or hotels?"

    "I like the idea of the Whittier location," said Assemblymember Michelle Hale. "People in my family talk about accessibility and how downtown feels not accessible, whether it is or not, and city hall on top of a parking structure just feels less accessible to me than a city hall in the Auke village district."

    Assemblymember Maria Gladziszewski spoke on her reservations with the price tag.

    "Does the city need another new office building? I have not passed that threshold. I have no problem with these two sites, I agree, I think you've done a great job on getting the two best ones that exist. If I had to pick one I'd pick Willoughby, but whether we're going to put a $40 million thing on the ballot, I'm nowhere near for that one."

    There's a July deadline for the introduction of an ordinance to consider putting a bond on the ballot this October.  

    The goal for a final site selection is pegged for April 11th at the Committee of the Whole meeting that day.

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