City's waterfront plan goes before Assembly

Some members concerned that high buildings will block Juneau's water view

Posted: Thursday, August 26, 2004

It's the beginning of the end in Juneau's quest for a waterfront development plan.

After two years in the works and numerous Waterfront Planning Committee meetings, the plan went to the Juneau Assembly in its first joint meeting with the committee Wednesday. If adopted the plan will shape the city's waterfront for 20 years.

Allowing developers to have more flexible building height is one of the committee's major amendments to the plan.

Although different areas in downtown have different building height restrictions, most buildings in downtown are not allowed to be higher than 35 feet.

The committee proposed that "innovative proposals which incorporate amenities desired by the community should be evaluated on their merits and not be specifically restricted by the standards" included in the plan.

"We call it a bonus system," said Assembly member Jeannie Johnson, who is also chair of the waterfront committee. "It will allow some creativity."

Johnson said design creativity is key to the collaboration between the city and the Alaska Mental Health Trust, one of the major land owners of Juneau's waterfront.

But some Assembly members are concerned that high buildings will block Juneau's water view.

"There is already flexibility in the building process," said Assembly Jim Powell. "It's important to keep the waterfront commercial, residential and park-like."

The committee and the Assembly will have more discussions at a Sept. 13 meeting focusing on downtown and the subport area, which extends from Gold Creek to the Goldbelt Hotel.

The committee's goal is for the Assembly to introduce an ordinance Sept. 27 and have a public hearing Oct. 11.

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