The city plans to exchange downtown property owned by the Juneau Alliance for Mental Health Inc. for the city's Salmon Creek building. The property downtown would be used for parking.
The Juneau Assembly on Monday gave City Manager Dave Palmer the go-ahead to negotiate and execute the land exchange. The Salmon Creek building and the JAMHI building and Colonial Apartments on Second and Franklin streets downtown are of similar value, according to the city.
The city's Downtown Revitalization Committee earlier this year recommended that the city acquire the JAMHI property downtown for parking. In the short term, 43 surface parking spaces would be created if the buildings downtown were demolished. In the long term, the city plans to construct a parking garage on the site. The Downtown Revitalization Committee suggested that some of the parking be made available for legislative needs.
JAMHI moved much of its operations into the Salmon Creek building last year, but still runs a day-treatment clubhouse in the yellow JAMHI building downtown and has a crisis respite facility and transitional living apartments in the Colonial Apartments, according to Executive Director Brenda Knapp. JAMHI leases the Salmon Creek offices from the city for $1 a year.
The nonprofit would move the crisis respite facility and transitional living apartments to the Lemon Creek area by the end of the year. The clubhouse would be moved to another downtown location by this time next year, Knapp said.
"We have other properties in town and we've already been looking at consolidating our staffed residential programs we own in the Lemon Creek area," she said. "The city has been very gracious and cooperative and set very workable timelines on this to accommodate the programs."
The Salmon Creek building is worth a little more than $1 million. So are the JAMHI building and Colonial Apartments, according to city Lands and Resources Manager Steve Gilbertson. The JAMHI property is next to a state parking garage, he said.
"One thing we want to focus on is to try to revitalize the commercial area between Front Street and the Capitol building on Fourth Street, and parking has been identified as a significant issue," he said. "The state is interested in a joint parking garage with the city using state and city land. So we have the opportunity to create more parking on the site."
Most of JAMHI's 50 staff members work at Salmon Creek. The organization provides a range of community mental health services. In 2000, JAMHI took over programs formerly offered by the city when the Health and Human Services Department was dismantled.
The Salmon Creek building was used by the city's mental health staff before JAMHI moved in. It is larger, has more parking and is closer to Bartlett Regional Hospital than are JAMHI's facilities downtown. It also is handicap-accessible, Knapp said.
"As we expanded and took on additional duties and had to hire a few more people, we couldn't do it all downtown," Knapp said.
The city is now researching the cost of demolishing the buildings downtown, and work probably would start next summer, Gilbertson said.
Joanna Markell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.