A man bikes past the Assembly Building, located just across the street from the Alaska State Capitol. The building is set to be renovated into a 33-unit multi-family apartment complex to house legislative staff. (Clarise Larson /Juneau Empire)

A man bikes past the Assembly Building, located just across the street from the Alaska State Capitol. The building is set to be renovated into a 33-unit multi-family apartment complex to house legislative staff. (Clarise Larson /Juneau Empire)

Extra leg room: Commission OKs plan to make legislative apartments

It is set to become a 33-unit apartment complex designated for legislative staff

The downtown Assembly Building is set to get a new round of life after the Juneau Planning Commission voted unanimously to pass a conditional use permit allowing the building to be converted into a 33-unit multi-family apartment complex to house legislators and staff close to the Alaska State Capitol.

“People working in the capitol will have the opportunity to live in this building,” said architect Wayne Jensen of Jensen Yorba Wall Inc. who will be leading the project. “It provides housing to legislators which is a big need, and they prefer to be as close to the capitol as they can — and we can’t get any closer than this.”

Last used as a commercial office space, the building is just a short walk from the State Capitol and is located on the corner of Fourth and Seward streets in a mixed-use zoning area. It will be renovated to hold 15 one-bedroom units and 18 efficiency units along with approximately 21 parking spaces in the underground parking lot.

This isn’t the first time the building would be used as an apartment complex, said Jensen. When the building was first constructed in 1934, its original intent and design was to be used as an apartment building, but was later changed for other uses. Now, the plan to use the same configuration as the original 1934 build and to keep a lot of the original constructed building.

In a written statement to the Juneau Planning Commission, Sen. Jesse Kiehl and Rep. Andi Story, both Juneau Democrats, expressed that they strongly support the conditional use permit for the building to be renovated.

“It will help make Juneau a better capital city. We work closely with lawmakers around the state to maintain support for the capital city. The number one request legislators make is for reliable housing,” Kiehl and Story wrote.

The building was donated by the Juneau Community Foundation and joins four other adjacent buildings that are located just across the street from the Thomas Stewart Legislative Office Building, where many legislators across the state travel to during the legislative session.

Planning Commission member Paul Voelckers, asked whether the building will be open to the general workforce after the legislative session is over. According to Jensen, that decision will be made by the Legislative Council, and he could not say.

Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or at (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.

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