The City and Borough of Juneau has purchased 2.35 acres of land in Vintage Park that will solely be used for senior assisted living. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

The City and Borough of Juneau has purchased 2.35 acres of land in Vintage Park that will solely be used for senior assisted living. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Developer sought for assisted living facility in Vintage Park

Assembly talks criteria for the search, grants for Heat$mart

The Juneau Assembly will seek competitive bids for the development of assisted living facilities in the Vintage Hill subdivision.

“Basically, what we’re trying to do is develop senior assisted housing,” said Loren Jones, member of the assembly.

City manager Rorie Watt said the city had three tools to attract potential developers: “Tax abatement, land and grants. Those are the three levers we have at our disposal,” he said. ”We want the best developer with the best project.”

The bidding process is tentatively scheduled to begin in October or November.

Assembly members also voted 8-1 to give Alaska Heat$mart a $147,000 grant after more than an hour of debate. Eventually, Jones was the only dissenting vote.

“I think we need to support this, but I also think we need to heed the members who have spoken up about the lack of information,” Assembly member Rob Edwardson said.

Alaska Heat$mart is a nonprofit that was brought into being as a result of the Juneau Renewable Energy Strategy. According to the JRES, air-source heat pump technology cuts down on fossil fuels. The JRES seeks to meet 80 percent of Juneau’s energy needs with renewable energy by 2045.

“For every gallon of fuel purchased, 95 cents out of the dollar leaves the town,” Assembly member Wade Bryson said. “This is going to be good for the environment, and this is going to be a positive economic step for every house in Juneau.”

There were also concerns about what the increased load on the power grid would be from widespread adoption of heat pump technology, but with the increased efficiency of heat pumps over electric resistance heaters they’d be replacing, the power demand will probably break even, said Steve Behnke, a group member of Alaska Heat$ource.

Watt gave notice to the Assembly that if the city’s bid for the Alaska Mental Health Trust land next to Coast Guard Station Juneau is successful, the Assembly will need to meet briefly on Sept. 12 to put together an ordinance to begin paying the bid. The bidding will take place on Sept. 9. A successful bid means that the city needs to bid at least 5 percent higher than the next closest prospective buyer, or the bidding continues, said Watt.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 523-2271 or

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