The Juneau Planning Commission on Tuesday approved a proposal for a new 22-unit apartment building at 345 Gastineau Ave. while grappling with neighborhood concerns about traffic.
The five-story building will provide affordable housing for clients of Juneau social service agencies such as the Juneau Alliance for Mental Health Inc., the Southeast Alaska Guidance Association, AWARE, Juneau Youth Services and the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
Channel View Inc. President Dan Austin said building will give the agencies' most successful clients access to quality housing. Residents will include singles, families and senior citizens.
"We need low-income housing in downtown where jobs and services exist," Austin said.
Funding for the $3 million project comes from conventional loans from the Alaska Housing Finance Corp. and federal tax credits purchased by private investors, he said.
The project includes a 28-space parking deck with slots allotted to the building's residents and stores on nearby S. Franklin Street. The site is within a landslide hazard zone and the project includes a protective wall.
Gastineau Avenue neighbors voiced concerns about traffic. Stuart Cohen said the number of cars traveling on the one-lane, two-way street would dramatically increase.
"You're creating an inconvenience that's not really fair. I think it's a good project ... but it should be accessed a different way," he said.
Page Bridges said the parking lot would be an eyesore and suggested landscaping improvements. While she didn't oppose the project, traffic is an issue, she said.
Planning commissioner Marshal Kendziorek said he was hesitantly supportive of the project because of neighborhood concerns.
"It's one of the balancing acts with public good on one side and public good on the other side," he said.
Commissioners unanimously approved Channel View's requests for a parking variance, two use permits and a request to vacate a portion of the street. They also directed city staff to explore the possibility of exchanging on-street parking for pull-outs to allow drivers to turn around.
Commissioner Jody Vick suggested the city put a proposal for neighborhood permit parking on an accelerated schedule. Commissioner Mike Bavard said alternative access routes also should be explored.
"Anytime we have anything on Gastineau, traffic is the issue," he said.
A two-year city project to reconstruct Gastineau Avenue from Second Street to Ewing Way is scheduled to begin this summer. The project will include an asphalt walkway on the uphill side of the road and additional sidewalk on the downhill side of the road, said city project manager Joe Castillo. The project won't affect the number of parking spaces on the street when complete, he said.
Site preparation for the apartments should begin this summer with building construction to start this fall, according to property owner Steve Landvik. The project will be coordinated with city road reconstruction work, he said.
In 1998, Landvik proposed putting a 12-unit apartment building on the site. He also has explored the possibility of legislative housing on Gastineau Avenue.
In other action, the Planning Commission approved a state plan and trail variance for improvements at the Eagle Beach State Recreation Area.
Joanna Markell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.