Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Rorie Watt wrote a memorandum to the committee and stated it is his belief that it is in the public interest to acquire the parcel.
The low bid for the parcel is $3.64 million. The property is owned by the Alaska Mental Health Trust. They will sell the property by sealed competitive bid in September.
"Significant potential opportunity and a significant amount of money," Lands Department Director Greg Chaney said. "It is a quite important piece of property for the future of the community. We are laying the foundation of how the waterfront is going to look."
Watt suggests using marine passenger fees, port development fee fund balance, and other funding sources.
He recommended the Assembly introduce the ordinance on July 22 to consider using $100,000 from the port development fee fund to serve as a bid deposit for the upcoming sealed bid process.
Committee member Chris Mertl said it is a very important property and it makes sense for the CBJ to bid on it.
The Assembly could decide on the bid they will make during an executive session on August 19.
Watt, in a written report to the committee, wrote that a well-managed downtown waterfront managed in alignment with community values is critical for supporting Juneau's economy and the cruise ship industry.
Watt mentioned interest from the private sector to acquire the parcel as a foothold for a fifth large cruise ship berth. The project was considered in the early 2000s and was rejected.
"If Juneau is ever ready for additional large berths, the Assembly is the body that should make that decision, the community should not be put in the position of reacting to a speculative investor," he wrote.
Possible uses of the parcel include continuation of the waterfront seawalk, access to tidelands and marine facilities necessary for ships and passengers including lighting and small cruise ship berthing, and associated uplands area to support those marine enterprise functions.
"This property could serve as a transportation hub, reducing pressure on the downtown roads," Watt wrote, "This property could serve as a transportation hub, reducing pressure on the downtown roads. The time has come to seriously consider a water taxi/harbor shuttle."
The recommendation now goes to the Committee of the Whole.
The Committee recommended an ordinance be introduced and adopted by the Assembly to clarify when the Planning Commission reviews a land transaction between the CBJ and another party.
CBJ Attorney Robert Palmer said the Lands Committee would have review over leases, easements, temporary use permits, Docks and Harbors land conveyances and sale and exchange of property. The Planning Commission currently reviews all of these things. Under the proposed ordinance they would no longer have that review.
Palmer said the Planning Commission is more of a regulatory body.
The Committee also recommended approval of a rezoning of three lots adjacent to the Thunder Mountain Mobile Home Park. The zoning would be changed from urban low-density residential to medium density residential. Medium density residential allows between five and 20 units per acre. The ordinance would rezone the three lots to D18 which allows for up to 18 units per acre. The rezone would allow more intensive development like higher density apartments and mobile home parks. The comprehensive plan map designates the three parcels as urban low-density residential which limits density to six units per acre. Since D18 zoning allows up to 18 units per acre, the ordinance would amend the comprehensive plan land use map for the three lots to medium density residential.
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities have requested to purchase small sections of four city properties in Lemon Creek for the Glacier Highway Lemon Creek area improvements project. The ADOT proposes to resurface and improve Glacier Highway Access Road from Vanderbilt Road to the old Walmart property. The ADOT said the project is needed due to inadequate bicycle and pedestrian crossings and travel lanes in the area.
The Lands Committee passed a motion of support for disposal of the city property through a negotiated sale and by providing easements to the ADOT for fair market value determined by waiver valuation and appraisal.
The offer from ADOT is $1,700.
The CBJ issued an eviction notice to a property at 333 W 9th Street for a property that is severely overdue on property taxes.
The next meeting of the Lands Committee is scheduled for July 8, at 5 pm at CBJ City Hall.
Audio from Lands Director Greg Chaney