The Juneau Planning Commission approved a conditional-use permit this week for a building that will house a University of Alaska Southeast recreation center and a National Guard armory.
The 54,000-square-foot building will be constructed near the UAS Auke Lake campus on land between student housing and Auke Bay Elementary School. The facility will include a gymnasium, kitchen, locker room, classrooms, indoor track, a student lounge for the recreation center, and office space for the armory.
Nathan Bishop, a city planner, said construction could begin as early as next spring.
The project still awaits approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fill wetlands, university spokesman Scott Foster said. The project would place 51,000 cubic yards of fill on 6.2 acres of forested and scrub wetlands, according to the application to fill wetlands.
The Planning Commission also granted a variance to reduce the number of required parking spaces at the facility from 168 spaces to 108. City Community Development Director Dale Pernula said the variance was approved to minimize the facility's effect on wetlands.
The campus will be about 2,000 feet from the recreation center. The eliminated parking spaces might not be needed because many students would walk to the facility from the university, Pernula added.
"There is a lot of parking on the campus proper," he said.
But Don Howell, who offers commercial business space in the area for rent, said parking near Auke Bay has reached maximum capacity. Howell owns the Squires Building at 11806 Glacier Highway, which is home to a variety of businesses such as Pappy Po's Pork Place, Chan's Thai Kitchen and Sally's Hair Salon.
The new recreation center/armory will be 500 feet from the Squires Building, and Howell said overflow parking will end up in his lot.
He suggested connecting the new parking lot with the one at Auke Bay Elementary, and authorizing its use for the two facilities and for overflow parking from the harbor.
Pernula said the conditional-use permit can be appealed to the Juneau Assembly for further consideration.
Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at email@example.com.