After 19 years of building homes in Juneau, Kelly Stephens, president of Superior Builders, decided he wanted to make the process easier.
Stephens, with the help of his parents, Loren and Darlene Stephens, who started Superior Builders in 1962, opened the Builders Plaza in May. The 17,600-square-foot building is behind Valley Lumber on Crest Avenue and was designed for businesses in the building industry.
"I wanted to bring companies together to provide the public with a better place to come to for building and remodeling," Stephens said. "Having all of these businesses in one place makes it a lot easier for the clients, and I hope it will enhance my business and the other businesses too."
Four months after opening, all but 1,000 square feet of the building has been rented. Industry-related tenants include Superior Builders, Speedy Glass, VanPool Painting, Tim's Wood Works, and the Home Builders Association of Juneau. The building also houses Oliver's Trophies and Engraving.
Keith Imel, Juneau branch manager for Speedy Glass, said his residential glass business has increased since he moved to the Builders Plaza.
"This is a great advantage because people come here to look for remodeling products and they can just walk from one door to the next," he said. "It's kind of a one-stop remodeling center for people in Juneau."
Speedy Glass, along with Tim's Wood Works, is one of the anchor businesses in the plaza.
"The Builders Plaza was specifically designed for businesses just like (Speedy Glass and Tim's Wood Works)," Stephens said. "We had some specific businesses in mind, and then we tried to make the rest of the building suitable for businesses that would come later."
Juneau architect Tom Huntington worked with Stephens to design the building, which features a showcase apartment that doubles as Stephens' home. The apartment is an example of what can be done architecturally and with design to create a distinctive look without incurring too much expense, Stephens said.
"Some of the features in the apartment are a little higher-end, but most of them are fairly inexpensive," Stephens said. "What we want to do is bring new products to town that nobody's seen. They'll enhance your home but they won't burn a hole in your pocketbook."
Stephens said that so far business has been good at the Builders Plaza. If things continue to improve, he said, he hopes to begin phase two of the project in spring 2003.
"I'd like to have a flooring company and maybe a renovating company in another building near this one," Stephens said. "Once we get it going we'll, hopefully, be at a point where the efficiency of the business will save both the consumer and the companies money in the long run."
Stephens has been working in the building industry for most of his life, he said. He is the treasurer of the Alaska Home Builders Association and a national director for the National Association of Home Builders. In 2001 he served as the president of the Home Builders Association of Juneau.
Stephens learned building skills from his family and "the school of hard knocks," he said. "My dad and brothers taught me everything I know."
Christine Schmid can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.