Walter Soboleff Center to break ground

Ceremony will be held on Aug. 1
Zach Hebert of J.L. Sherburne Landscape Designs digs up a plant at the corner lot of the future Walter Soboleff Center on Wednesday. The Sealaska Heritage Institute has scheduled a ground-breaking ceremony for the center on August 1. All the plants currently on site have been bought and are being moved to other locations this week in preparation for the ground breaking.

A ground-breaking ceremony is scheduled for next month on the Walter Soboleff Center, the Sealaska Heritage Institute announced Wednesday.


“The big thing is that we did select the contractor,” Rosita Worl, SHI President, said. “They’re going to begin work almost as soon as the ground-breaking ceremony is done.”

Sealaska plans to have about 100 in attendance with Mayor Merrill Sanford, Gov. Sean Parnell and other members of the Juneau delegation at the ceremony.

In early July, Dawson Construction, Inc. won the bid for the project that is expected to cost about $20 million.

Fundraising for the center's construction began over the past few years and it continues to receive grants and public donations for the remaining $900,000.

Two conditional use permits went before the City and Borough of Juneau Planning Commission in past months, and were granted with conditions.

Plans to install full-cutoff lighting were one of the conditions placed on the permit, but variances to delete canopy requirements along Shattuck Way were granted.

“Full-cutoff lighting is being worked into the design and will be part of the building permit and they look to make sure that we accommodated that,” said Sealaska Chief of Operations Lee Kadinger.

Variances to delete parking spaces during construction were not granted. Construction staging will be in the Sealaska parking lot downtown.

“We know that there will be a lot of inconveniences with the construction down there,” Worl said. “We’re just hoping the city, the public will bear with us. I think the inconveniences will be well worth it.”

Across from the planned site for the center is Percy’s Liquor Store on Front Street. Robert Rodman, owner of the liquor store for 20 years, said he welcomes the project.

“I mean it’s a lot better than having a hole in the ground. I think it’s going to be great. I expect they’ll do it right and it’ll be nice,” Rodman said. “Having something over there will bring people to the area. It’s going to take some of our sunlight, but what the heck.”

Contact reporter Kenneth Rosen at 523-2250 or at


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