This rendering depicts Huna Totem Corp.’s proposed new cruise ship dock downtown that was approved for a conditional-use permit by the City and Borough of Juneau Planning Commission in early July. (City and Borough of Juneau)

This rendering depicts Huna Totem Corp.’s proposed new cruise ship dock downtown that was approved for a conditional-use permit by the City and Borough of Juneau Planning Commission in early July. (City and Borough of Juneau)

City says more public outreach planned as permit for Huna Totem cruise ship dock moves forward

Upcoming meeting for uplands development permit scheduled for Aug. 8.

This story has been updated to clarify that the dock will be subject to the five cruise ship limit.

Weeks after the City and Borough of Juneau Planning Commission approved a conditional-use permit for Huna Totem Corp.’s proposed new cruise ship dock downtown, the city says it plans to increase public outreach on the topic after seeing minimal public participation at the recent meeting.

“Several commissioners along with myself were shocked by how few members of the public were at the planning commission meeting about this topic that I know many people care deeply about,” said Assembly member Christine Woll at a special Assembly meeting Monday night where an update on the project was given.

In early July during a multi-hour meeting, the planning commission moved to approve a permit — subject to several conditions — for the construction of a floating steel dock located downtown along the Gastineau Channel off the intersection of Whittier Street and Egan Drive.

Some of those conditions include limiting the dock to one cruise ship per day, committing to providing shore power (when power becomes sufficient), not allowing hot berthing and conducting a study that considers the impacts of the dock to the other terminals.

The proposed dock is just one piece of a large vision for the downtown area sought by the Alaska Native corporation, which hopes to develop both a waterfront pier and cruise terminal after being donated 2.9 acres of property by Norwegian Cruise Line in late August of 2022.

The land where the project would be located, named the Àak’w Landing, was originally purchased by NCL in a $20 million bid in 2019 before being given to Huna Totem. Though the permit for the dock was approved at the early July meeting, the subsequent uplands developments for the retail/welcome center proposed were not.

A planning commission meeting to discuss the possible permitting of the uplands developments will be held on Aug. 8. City Manager Rorie Watt said the city plans to increase public outreach so more residents are aware of the upcoming meeting and have an idea of the process behind the project.

“I think people are a little confused on the process and understandably so,” Watt said Monday night.

Watt said despite the recent permit approval, he emphasized that before the project can fully move forward Huna Totem will need approval from the Assembly for a land deal to lease the city-owned tidelands the corporation plans to use. If that doesn’t happen, it could stop the project from moving forward altogether.

Along with the required tidelands approval, both conditional use permits for the dock and uplands development still need approval by the Assembly, actions that Watt said won’t likely happen until after the October election.

• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651)-528-1807.

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