Auke Bay post office property could be rezoned

Building's owner wants to convert lower level
The building that houses the U.S. Post Office in Auke Bay could be rezoned, allowing for the vacant space in the lower level to be reconfigured into apartments.

The owner of the building that houses the U.S. Post Office in Auke Bay is seeking a rezone of the property in order to convert its lower level into apartments.

Myron Klein, who has owned the property since 1984, wants to convert about 4,000 square feet of empty space on the first floor, vacated by the post office when it downsized last year, into seven apartments. However, the property is zoned waterfront commercial, and the dwelling unit density cap in the zone prevents Klein from adding apartments. The second level of the building is already made up of apartments. There are also two pre-existing apartments on the first floor.

Klein is pursuing a rezone of the property to general commercial, which allows for 50 dwelling units per acre. City senior planner Ben Lyman led a neighborhood meeting Monday evening to go over the implications of a rezone. He showed community members the difference between waterfront commercial, general commercial and light commercial, another zoning option for the property.

“General commercial allows for a lot of things,” Lyman said. “It has a pretty wide variety of uses.”

A rezone to light commercial would allow for Klein to add the seven apartments, but its dwelling unit cap would prevent him from putting in more if the post office vacates the space once its five-year lease is up, Lyman said. The city decided it would be more efficient to propose a rezone to general commercial in anticipation of the potential post office space, he said.

Klein said he doesn’t know if the post office intends to stay in its current location after its lease is up. The U.S. Postal Service signed another five-year lease last year, and asked for the option to continue it, he said.

Juneau Postmaster Susan Johnson said she was unable to comment on the lease. U.S.P.S. headquarters was unable to provide the Empire with any information by press time.

Through the rezone, a single-family home across from the post office would also become general commercial.

Lyman said he anticipates the Planning Commission will make a recommendation on the rezone in late November or early December; the Assembly should make a decision by late December or early January. Public hearings on the plan will accompany these Planning Commission and Assembly meetings.

Lyman can be contacted with comments on the rezone at benjamin_lyman@ci.juneau.ak.us.

• Contact reporter Katie Moritz at 523-2294 or at katherine.moritz@juneauempire.com. Follow her on Twitter @katecmoritz.

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