Sealaska officially owns 'the pit'

Posted: Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sealaska Corp. has officially bought the downtown lot at 213 Front St. knows as "the pit." While a deal was reached in June, the transfer of ownership became official Monday.

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

Sealaska's ownership cleared its final hurdle when the pit's previous owner, Juneau businessman Hugh Grant, made repairs to the deteriorating sidewalk near the building, according to a news release. The sidewalk needed repair after the 2004 fire that destroyed the Skinner Building, which previously occupied the site, the release states.

Grant, along with three family members and his partner, Thomas Huntington, received criticism for the sidewalk's dilapidated state, according to Empire archives, and even faced a lawsuit from the city, the release states.

Sealaska executive vice president Rick Harris said it was his understanding the corrections to the land were made and the lawsuit was dropped.

"The site has been filled to our specifications and expectations, the owner has gone back in and replaced the failing sidewalk that was sinking into the pit, and they've also graded the property in a way so the drainage for rain and snow heads in the right direction," he said.

The Native corporation's nonprofit sister company, the Sealaska Heritage Institute, will use the land to construct a Native archival and cultural center, according to the release. It will be used for the preservation of historical papers and ethnographic collections, and for the cultivation of Native culture, arts and languages.

"Sealaska plans to landscape the lot, so it's attractive in the interim before ground is broken for the center," Harris said.

Synergy Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sealaska, will serve as project manager for the construction. According to the release, this construction will generate around 80 jobs during the next two years.

• Contact Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or

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