Juneau Assembly has money for Gastineau Apartments demolition if Barretts don't pay

• Passes new fine structure for illegal signs • Residents speak out against flag on Egan Drive

In advance of a November deadline on a demolition order for Gastineau Apartments, the Juneau Assembly has transferred $1.8 million from another project to pay for the building’s demise.

 

City Attorney Amy Mead said during the body’s Monday meeting that the owners of the building, James and Kathleen Barrett, had not met deadlines following a demolition order served to them earlier this month. The Barretts were required to apply for a demolition permit but did not do so, Mead said.

The Gastineau Apartments complex has burned twice in the past three years and the city has determined that it is unsalvageable. The $1.8 million is what the city will use to pay for the demolition if the Barretts don’t do it themselves. Mead said in a previous interview that the city would likely have to take the owners to court to be reimbursed for the demolition costs if it comes to that.

The money was transferred from a fund meant for the West Juneau-Douglas Highway Access Study, which is looking at a potential bench road along Douglas Highway with a crossing off the upper end of Cordova Street. It is unrelated to the proposed West Douglas Road and development, city manager Kim Kiefer clarified in an email Tuesday evening.

“Engineering staff would proceed on the preparation of a bid package and advertise for demolition, if or when the Assembly directs that action,” Kiefer said at the meeting.

The Barretts told the city they had opened bidding on the demolition project. The owners filed an appeal of the city’s estimate for the demolition cost with the city’s Building Code Board of Appeals on Friday. The board dismissed the appeal because it did not fall under its purview. 

Mead said the Barretts have been notified of the city’s intent to move forward with the demolition if they don’t.

The Assembly also approved a city ordinance that places stricter rules on out-of-compliance storefront signage around town.

The new ordinance allows the city planning department to issue a $500 ticket each day a store displays a sign that is out of compliance with the city’s rules. Shop owners have 15 days after a first ticket is issued to fix the problem or remove the illegal sign. 

The rule rectifies a quirk of city ordinance that fined store owners $25 for a signage violation but charged $50 for a sign permit. The ordinance passed Monday is unchanged from the draft the Assembly discussed earlier this month except that it clears up the city’s right to fine a shop owner $500 each day after the 15-day grace period is up.

The Assembly also authorized the drafting of a lease agreement with Pacific Coast Paving for a proposed asphalt plant on city land adjacent to the Lemon Creek gravel pit.

The company will eventually have to go before the Planning Commission and the Assembly again for public comment on the permit it needs to operate an asphalt plant on the property.

Also at the meeting, two residents advocated removing the Mississippi flag from Egan Drive.

Local group Friends of the Flags raises all 50 state flags along the main thoroughfare during the summer. The Mississippi flag includes the Confederate battle flag, which has come under fire because of a recent racially motivated shooting in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Matt McGuan and Marc Wheeler asked the Assembly to take action to have the flag removed.

McGuan said he realized it’s one of the 50 state flags, but “this is our state, this is our city. ... We’re not going to give that symbol a place of prominence and honor.”

Wheeler backed him up. The flag is flown on Alaska Department of Transportation property, not city property.

“I’m a white guy, I probably shouldn’t be up here talking about this, but I grew up in the South and that symbol creates a lot of pain in a lot of people’s lives,” he said. “Do whatever you can do to have this symbol removed from our community.”

Editor's note: This story has been modified to clarify that the source of funding for the potential Gastineau Apartments demolition is unrelated to the proposed West Douglas Road and development.

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

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City serves Gastineau Apts. owners with demolition order

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