Juneau, Alaska (KINY) How does Juneau handle the surge of cruise ship passengers which has increased by 50 percent in the past eight years?
That was the question Port Director Carl Uchytil asked the CBJ Committee of the Whole. "I think the community deserves the best waterfront that we can provide."
Cruise ships are getting bigger and wider and that won't change. In 1973, 36,536 people stepped off cruise ships in Juneau. The estimate for 2019 is over 1.3 million.
Docks and Harbors has continued to develop plans for providing transportation staging and open space on the water front. Archipelago Properties, LLC and Docks and Harbors have negotiated a three part plan. First the Assembly must approve a motion to directly negotiate the sale of CBJ property. This is scheduled to be voted on July 23. Second, the budget transfer of $3.3 million has been requested by Docks and Harbors to continue the design development and prepare a bid package. Third, the CBJ must provide a complete funding package.
Uchytil said private investment occurs when a city itself invests in its waterfront. The increase in cruise ship passengers have occurred without many improvements to the uplands. The movement of pedestrians has been restricted as a result. He said a well designed staging area would improve the overall visitor experience to Juneau.
The Marine Park to Taku Dock Urban Design Plan is designed to accommodate a variety of activities of interest to locals and visitors. The plan strives to create a waterfront that meets the expectations of the community to create economic opportunities, year round destinations and enhance Juneau's waterfront.
The estimated cost of development is $22.2 million. Construction costs are $17 million of that total. There would also be sales of property from both entities. There would also be easements that allow public access for the entire property, about 1.4 acres.
The proposed site was Juneau Cold Storage that burned down in 1987. The property has been up for sale since 2008. The city would develop a parking lot, staging area and open space. Archipelago would create two buildings with 13,000 square feet of retail. The city would create a pavilion on site for passengers waiting for transportation. It could possible be designed for use in the winter.
"Conceptually I am in favor of this plan. It is an under utilized area. There is an opportunity to further utilize that area," Assembly member Norton Gregory said. He suggested an observation area over the parking area where people can sit and enjoy the scenery.
"I just enjoy my time down there just hanging out on the docks," he added.
Engineer Gary Gillette said they have long sought ideas to attract more people downtown with an IMAX theater and other projects. "The idea is to get people down there in the off season in hopes that some of those stores and restaurants would remain open."