City to foot 80 percent of sea-walk tab

Two new shops already have taken walkway's design into consideration

Posted: Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Property owners along Juneau's downtown waterfront will be required to pay 20 percent of the costs of a sea walk the city plans to build from the Juneau-Douglas Bridge to a rock dump near Thane Road.

The Assembly passed an ordinance Monday that provides for a fee in lieu of private construction requirements that equals about 20 percent of the final costs.

"We want to have a unified concept of a sea walk that the city can coordinate," Deputy Mayor Marc Wheeler said.

Assembly members said the city will begin construction on a particular portion of the 1.8-mile sea walk soon in conjunction with a private contractor now building two waterfront stores.

Between the Juneau public library and the tram operated by Goldbelt Inc., the two stores - Miners' Cove and Alaska Pacific Pier - will be two-story structures with rear sides facing the waterfront.

The Assembly approved sea walk designs for the section in which those structures are being built so that private contractor North Pacific Erectors Inc. and his clients could finish the buildings.

The property owners hired architects to design their portion of the sea walk, though now they will no longer need those plans.

Jim Williams, president of North Pacific Erectors, said the owners' blueprints were similar to the ones approved on Monday.

"I think the Assembly handled everything just fine," Williams said.

The city Waterfront Development Committee made modifications to the design to make the path straighter and add an angle onto a sidewalk to encourage pedestrians to use the sea walk. Before, designs showed access was hidden behind buildings.

Reducing crowds on South Franklin Street sidewalks is one goal of the waterfront project, Assembly member Stan Ridgeway said. The design also allows a buffer space 24 feet from the cruise ship docks in case a security alert is issued.

Juneau Community Development Director Dale Pernula said he did not know exactly when the city will start construction on the easement, considering it first needs to put out bids for the work and acquire permits.

The ordinance spells out design standards that were not in place before. The walkway is planned to be a continuous path and property owners should dedicate easements of 16 feet.

Last year, the city adopted a plan known as the Long Range Waterfront Plan, which outlines the purpose of the project and offers schematic drawings.

The sea walk will pass through a series of parks and invite bicycle and kayak rental businesses, artists and small restaurants. Gateway signs are planned near the Juneau-Douglas Bridge and for the historic downtown.

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