Slow season for Juneau builders and remodelers

Posted: Tuesday, June 26, 2001

The 2001 building season is turning out to be slower than usual for some local contractors.

"I usually have six different jobs going on at this time of year," said Fred Pollard, whose company is building a four-unit townhouse at Park Place in the Mendenhall Valley. "But right now, we're just working on the four units and on a job out of town. Business is slower for me than it has been for the last few years."

Juneau issued 354 building permits through June 21, fewer than the 386 issued during the same period last year, according to figures from city building official Chris Roust.

"There's been a continuous downturn in construction and remodeling (permits) for the past five years," said Roust. "This summer is not a dramatic downturn. It's just following the pattern that was established several years ago."

The number of new commercial construction permits issued this year - 15 - is the same as last year, according to a report issued by the city's permit center. There also appears to be slightly more commercial remodeling and addition work this summer with 76 permits issued, three more than last year.

One of the makeovers is at downtown's Prospector Hotel.

"We're in the last 10 days of remodeling every room in the hotel," said general manager Bridgette Coke. "We've added five rooms, put in a large conference room that accommodates 80 people, recarpeted, and put new paint and furniture in every room."

Along with the downtown hotel's facelift, Bartlett Memorial Hospital is revamping its cafeteria and Big Kmart is in the middle of a large remodeling project to make room for a new grocery section.

The Juneau School District doesn't have any major remodeling projects slated for this summer, but there is a lot of maintenance work scheduled in the next few months, according to facilities manager Joe Mueller.

"We'll be putting a new roof on the Auke Bay School, a new gym floor at Floyd Dryden and in the auxiliary gym at the high school. We also are in the process of getting bids for a new roof at Marie Drake," Mueller said. "No new construction, just major maintenance."


One of the new commercial buildings going up downtown this summer is a gift shop on South Franklin, which is expected to open next spring, said Steve Landvik, owner of Viking Contractors, which is working on the building.

"From what I understand by talking with other people, all aspects of construction is slow this year," Landvik said. "Fortunately, we have a lot of work this summer."

New residential construction permits are up, with 47 issued to last year's 39. But residential remodel and addition permits are down: 181 this year vs. 204 to date in 2000.

"Despite the numbers, there seems to be enough to go around," said Kelly Stephens, president of the Homebuilders Association of Juneau. "Our members seem to be busy and, from what I hear, it looks like there is still a lot of remodeling going on in town."

"With the price of gas, the slow economy and the stock market dropping out, people are trying to figure out whether they can afford a new home or if they want to remodel," Stephens said. "Some people chose a new home. Others remodel."

No matter what people decide, Stephens, who owns Superior Builders, hopes to make building a home and remodeling projects a lot easier.

"I'm in the middle of building a 17,600-square-foot commercial building behind Valley Lumber," said Stephens, whose company is also building three new homes this summer. "It's going to be a one-stop shopping place for people with any kind of home construction project."

The building will include companies specializing in countertops, glass, cabinets, painting, remodeling and overall construction, Stephens said.

"People can come in, walk around, talk to a lot of different businesses and get quotes all in one place," he said. "My goal is to have everything you need for building or remodeling a home under one roof."

Builders Plaza will be completed this summer and open in the fall.

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