Juneau’s City Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Juneau’s City Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Developer pushes back project, cites parking requirement

Company says project isn’t viable with city demands for parking spaces

Development on the Archipelago lot on South Franklin Street will be partially delayed for another year.

The City and Borough of Juneau declined to grant the company developing the property a variance for the number of parking spaces required.

The city has a parking requirement for projects, City Manager Rorie Watt said and in a letter to Mayor Beth Weldon, Morris Communications said the economics of the parking requirement would not make the project feasible.

“Unfortunately, our development application resulted in a calculated ‘need’ of 114 parking spaces,” the letter from Morris Vice President of Property and Facilities Robert Kuhar said. Developers can pay a fee to circumvent the requirement but according to Kuhar’s letter that would cost roughly $900,000.

“That kind of charge breaks the financial viability of our project,” Kuhar said. “We must evaluate the profitability of our development options to decide whether or not we want to proceed.”

Kuhar alleges that other businesses on south Franklin do not provide parking nor have they been made to pay a fee. Because of the requirement Morris, which previously owned the Empire, has decided to move completion of the project until 2022.

Kuhar said Morris is still committed to completing the project, but asked CBJ to reconsider some of its policies regarding the parking requirement.

The project is a co-venture between the city and Morris, Watt said, and the city’s portion will be completed by the end of the year. The open space over the water between the Seawalk and the shore will be covered, but Morris’ portion of the project, which would create a plaza with shops will take longer to complete.

Morris’ plans for the site date back to 2017, when the project was said to take only two years. But in his letter, Kuhar said the company, “find ourselves staring at a brick wall,” and asks for the Assembly’s help in resolving the issue.

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