South Franklin tract to be divided, sold

Posted: Thursday, August 12, 2010

The owners of the mostly unimproved waterfront tract located on South Franklin just south of the library parking garage have announced the tract will be subdivided to suit and sold to interested buyers. At over 73,000 square feet, the land is the largest undeveloped waterfront parcel in the downtown commercial district.

According to landowner Archipelago Property LLC spokesperson, Robert Kuhar, the property development will likely include some mixed use of office, retail and residential space depending on a potential buyer's needs. Because of its large size and the tract's premium waterfront location, Kuhar indicated the best course of action is to divide the property into smaller, more affordable segments that will be more in keeping with the current development of the area.

The draft conceptual plan, says Kuhar, will require the space to be developed in two clusters, one on each side of the city's access corridor as the property is currently divided by a twenty-five foot wide right-of-way that allows city and public access from S. Franklin to the sea walk. Some of the individual tracts, as they are sold and developed, will face the corridor and will contribute to the city's desire to create a pedestrian plaza or promenade.

John Stone, Port director for CBJ Docks and Harbors, said the Harbor Board would like to see the purchase of small portions of the tract in order to expand the right-of-way from twenty-five to fifty feet, and add refuge areas for pedestrians to access bench seating, and are evaluating whether the site may be a good selection for relocation of the USS Juneau Memorial. The CBJ Engineering Department also has plans to widen the sidewalk along this section of S. Franklin.

According to minutes of the Assembly Lands Committee meeting of June 14, 2010, a presentation was made to the committee outlining the advantages of acquiring a portion of the property. Lands and Resources Manager Heather Marlow told the Committee the city has had a long history of being interested in this area and we are very lucky to have a landowner who wants to work with us. A motion that the Committee approve the Harbor Board's request to enter into negotiations with Archipelago for the purchase of an additional twenty five feet of right-of-way and an additional portion at the dock end to establish a new public plaza area passed unanimously, but also requires a more robust site analysis be done before locating the USS Juneau memorial.

The USS Juneau was involved in the battle of Guadalcanal in November 1942 and all five of the Sullivan brothers were killed in action, which prompted changes in how the armed forces stationed siblings. The visitors' center is displacing the current memorial and a new location and design, one that is a more adequate and fitting memorial, is needed.

Archipelago Properties LLC has contracted with The Carlton Smith Company, a Juneau based commercial real estate firm, to market the property for sale. Archipelago Properties LLC is a subsidiary of Morris Communications, owner of the Juneau Empire.

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