A cycle rickshaw and cars park outside the front of the Glory Hall’s former downtown homeless shelter Tuesday evening. The building is slated to begin its transformation into seven affordable housing units and additional commercial use space in mid-October. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

A cycle rickshaw and cars park outside the front of the Glory Hall’s former downtown homeless shelter Tuesday evening. The building is slated to begin its transformation into seven affordable housing units and additional commercial use space in mid-October. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Downtown Glory Hall apartment project to begin construction this fall

The former homeless shelter will be converted into seven affordable housing units

The Glory Hall’s former downtown homeless shelter is slated to begin its transformation into seven affordable housing units and additional commercial use space in mid-October.

“We’re hoping to start right as the tourist season kind of winds down,” said Glory Hall Executive Director Mariya Lovishchuk on Tuesday afternoon. “We want to start constructing when the downtown corridor, you know, gets a little bit less busy.”

On Monday it was announced the project, expected to cost $1.4 million, is set to receive a $300,000 grant from the Rasmuson Foundation to assist with the construction. The affordable housing project is one of the two nonprofits in Juneau to receive grant funding from the foundation. The Southeast Alaska Food Bank also received a $250,000 grant for an additional food storage warehouse in Juneau.

Lovishchuk said the grant funding is crucial to help get the project — located at 247 S. Franklin St. — off the ground and into the construction phase.

“I’m just so grateful,” she said. “I just could not be more grateful for the Rasmussen Foundation’s support for this project and other projects — it just really puts our project one step closer to being completed and we cannot be more excited.”

The project, originally proposed in October 2021, was a previous source of high tensions. Proponents were seeking a permit to convert the interior of the building — which has space for more than 50 people in several dormitories, several shared bathrooms and a communal kitchen — into seven two-person apartments that each have kitchen and bathroom facilities.

During the public process, the city’s Community Development Department repeatedly challenged actions by the Juneau Planning Commission to advance the project, citing municipal code which states construction projects in avalanche and landslide hazard zones can’t increase occupational density.

However, in the fall of 2022, the planning commission unanimously approved a conditional use permit for the building following a meeting where more than two dozen residents spoke in favor of the project. The commission argued the project actually reduces density by decreasing the roughly 50-person capacity of the shelter to 14 people living in the seven apartments.

Currently, Lovishchuk said the project is waiting to hear back from three other potential grants for the project construction. According to City and Borough of Juneau Manager Rorie Watt, the city also previously approved a $350,000 grant from Juneau Affordable Housing Fund more than a year ago for the project.

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

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