Developer outlines downtown building

New People's Wharf structure will offer retail, living space

Posted: Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Juneau Planning Commission unanimously approved a developer's plan Tuesday to demolish a building on the 400 block of South Franklin Street, paving the way for a more modern building.

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Bill Heumann, owner of the People's Wharf building on South Franklin Street, said he will rebuild the structure to include 5,100 square feet of retail space on the first floor and 5,000 square feet of residential space on the second floor.

Currently, there are two shops on the first floor, Venetian Jewelers and Fur Factory. Both stores are slated to return once the new building is complete.

Builders plan to replace six efficiencies and a two-bedroom apartment on the second floor with three, three-bedroom apartments. Often, Heumann's tenants have been seasonal workers. By building regular apartments, he hopes to bring in year-round tenants.

Dixie Hood, a family and marriage therapist with an office on Seward Street, said she hopes similar projects will be encouraged downtown.

"Seward Street is what seems like downtown to me. It is an active area. ... Compared to Franklin Street (it) is a world of difference in terms of feeling alive," she said. "I know that you probably don't have the authority to determine whether a businessman is going to have a seasonal or non-seasonal business, but I would encourage the businessmen to have year-round workers."

Several variances were granted for the project, including requests to build to the property line, reduce the parking space requirement, reduce the amount of vegetation and construct seaward of the reach of mean tide. Heumann said he plans to build a seawalk behind the building, in keeping with the city's long-term waterfront development plan. He said he hopes to have construction finished by the 2007 tourist season.

• Reporter Brittany Retherford can be reached at brittany.retherford@

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