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SHI hires contractor for Soboleff Center

Project expects to break ground later this month

Posted: July 1, 2013 - 4:43pm  |  Updated: July 1, 2013 - 11:09pm

Although still awaiting a building permit pending changes to plans for the Sealaska Heritage Institute’s Walter Soboleff Heritage Center, the institute expects to break ground later this month following the hiring of a contractor Monday.

Dawson Construction, Inc., the newly-hired contractor, has completed more than 30 projects in Juneau and multiple cultural centers in the region.

Through a competitive scoring and bidding process, Dawson Construction, Inc. won the contract for the project that is expected to cost about $20 million.

“We had to make a decision and it was very difficult, but I’m very excited about Dawson Construction,” said Rosita Worl, SHI President, in a statement. “They have great experience here in Southeast Alaska. In the end, they seemed like the best fit for us.”

The overall project, which includes alterations, enhancements and property acquisition around the current Sealaska building, is about 75 percent funded. Funding for the center itself is nearly completed.

“There are still funds left to be raised and we’re hoping that we’ll have other partners and business contribute to the project,” said Lee Kadinger, SHI chief operating officer. “We’re looking forward to the wonderful, largest investment in revitalizing downtown Juneau in decades.”

The forthcoming Soboleff Center is a modern cultural and heritage center and recently won an award to fund the project from ArtPlace America, a collaboration of national and regional foundation funders, banks and federal agencies.

The center will be constructed on what is commonly referred to as “The Pit,” an area between South Seward and Shattuck Way off Main Street that remains unoccupied.

Last month, the City and Borough of Juneau Planning Commission granted the project two conditional use permits needed to move forward with construction, but was denied several variances aimed at deleting parking spaces on Main and South Seward Streets. Both permits were issued with conditions

Planning Commission staff wanted to ensure that parking wouldn’t be crippled by construction and that full cutoff, LED lights would be considered for the building, and suggested a lighting proposal be submitted to the commission.

Finalized plans go before the commission Tuesday.

The project hopes to break ground in late July.

“We’re already in the process of planning that,” said Worl. “We’re hopeful that everyone from the governor and our legislators are going to be able to attend as well as our tribal leaders — ANB, ANS and, of course, Dr. Soboleff’s family.”

• Contact reporter Kenneth Rosen at 523-2250 or at kenneth.rosen@juneauempire.com.

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