Stalled subport building gets planning review

Posted: Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A new state office building on downtown's waterfront subport property was reviewed by the Juneau Planning Commission Tuesday, despite the state Legislature failing to pass a bill enabling it to be built immediately.

The building would be taller than the height allowed in the area, but planner Dale Pernula said variances are allowed if the developer adds other amenities.

Architect Wayne Jensen of Jensen Yorba Lott said they'd be seeking a variance to allow the building to proceed in a compact, cost-effective manner.

Among the city's planning goals are encouraging Juneau as the state capital.

The subport building would contain offices for the Departments of Labor, Fish and Game, Corrections, Public Safety and others in 145,000-square-foot facility.

Jensen said that moving those offices next to the current Capitol complex met the planning goal.

The building would be built by the Trust as an investment, and leased back to the state. The Trust's perpetual charter means the building will be an asset to the city, he said.

"The Mental Health Trust has a long-term perspective, and they are going to build a quality building," he said.

Planners spent an hour and a half looking at issues like how it would connect to the seawalk, whether it would block views, and how people would access transit. No action was taken.

The Trust's Harry Noah said they had requests for proposals ready to be issued, had the Legislature approved the building before it adjourned last week.

Tuesday's meeting went ahead because it had already been planned, he said, but the Mental Health Trust can't spend additional money without legislative approval.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or

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