The Juneau Planning Commission has approved a new retail building downtown for the tourist trade.
The Planning Commission on Tuesday unanimously granted conditional-use permits and variances for a two-story building at 422 South Franklin St. to be called Miner's Hall.
The lot, next to Pioneer Jewelers on the waterfront side of the street, is now vacant.
It will be rental retail space, said Karl Vandor of North Pacific Erectors of Douglas. The company will build Miner's Hall, but Vandor wasn't sure if tenants had been lined up.
The bottom floor would contain three shops and the upstairs would hold one shop, the owners' application for permits said.
The owners of the land and the proposed building, Boudewin Roeland and Hendrika Flamee, live in Belgium. They own 11 pieces of property in Juneau, many downtown, the city assessor's office said.
They have been buying commercial property in Juneau for five to 10 years, said James Canary, the city assessor. This is the first time they've built on their property themselves, he said.
"They're searching for properties as good investment properties," he said.
Because Miner's Hall will be along the waterfront, the owners must provide a seawalk behind the building, in keeping with the city's long-range development plan. The city is working with Roeland and Flamee to have an attractive facade on the rear of the building as well, said Chris Beanes, a city planner.
At some point, seawalks from three parcels in the area could stretch about 300 feet, he said. They would alleviate some pedestrian use on the crowded sidewalks of South Franklin Street.
The city also has worked with the owners to add more architectural details in keeping with the downtown historic district, which includes the front part of Miner's Hall, Beanes said.
Roeland and Flamee "were, I would say, pretty easy to work with," he said. "It's not always that way with development in the historic district."
Construction will begin this winter, stop for the tourist season and resume the following winter, Vandor said. The building should be completed by spring of 2006.
The Planning Commission set conditions for the building's construction to spare nearby residents some irritations. Pile driving will be limited to 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the weekends. Lighting used during construction must be shielded so residents won't see the glare.
The Planning Commission granted a variance from the usual amount and location of required parking. The owners will be allowed to provide 17 parking spaces at the rock dump off Thane Road and share in a shuttle used by other downtown businesses.
The city assumed that most shoppers at Miner's Hall will be pedestrians from cruise ships. Employees probably will use the shuttle.
Without the variance, the owners would have to provide 29 parking spaces on their land. The variance recognizes there's a difference between a business that caters to tourists and one that is open year-round, Beanes said.
The Planning Commission also approved a conditional-use permit to allow a building in a moderate avalanche-hazard zone, and a variance to build to the property line and not have a 10-foot setback on the front and sides.
The owners also must lease tidelands from the city, and receive a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fill tidelands and build a dock-like structure.
Eric Fry can be reached at email@example.com.