Pieces of the gondola that the City and Borough of Juneau purchased from Galsterberg Ski Area in Austria sit scattered in the snow outside Eaglecrest Ski Area. At Monday night’s Assembly meeting the Assembly approved a deal in which Goldbelt Inc. would invest $10 million toward the installation and construction of the gondola project.(Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Pieces of the gondola that the City and Borough of Juneau purchased from Galsterberg Ski Area in Austria sit scattered in the snow outside Eaglecrest Ski Area. At Monday night’s Assembly meeting the Assembly approved a deal in which Goldbelt Inc. would invest $10 million toward the installation and construction of the gondola project.(Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Gondola project on track for $10M investment

It is expected to open in the spring of 2027

The city approved a deal to allow Goldbelt Inc. to invest $10 million toward the installation and construction of the City and Borough of Juneau’s gondola project at the municipal-owned Eaglecrest Ski Area on North Douglas.

The agreement between the city and the Alaska Native corporation was OK’d by the city Assembly at its Monday night meeting.

Under the revenue sharing agreement, Goldbelt is be contracted to contribute $10 million toward the project — in addition to the city’s $2 million already spent on the project — which will fund the constructing towers and foundations for the gondola, installing cabling and building a gravel road that follows the gondola alignment and infrastructure for the gondola itself including bottom and top terminals.

In exchange for the investment, Goldbelt will receive a share between 10% and 25% of the gondola’s anticipated future summer revenue made over 25 years once opened — or longer — until the corporation is paid back a minimum of $20 million in compensation for the initial investment.

Goldbelt isn’t new to tourism investments in Southeast Alaska, and the company already has its skin in the game when it comes to tourism investments in the Juneau borough. Most notably, it has owned and operated the popular Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway located downtown for more than 25 years.

Goldbelt was unable to immediately respond to calls seeking comment.

According to the agreement document, the investment will be made in three separate payments in 2023, and the contract outlined an opening date for the gondola to be May 31, 2027. However, if the gondola fails to open by that date, Goldbelt can back out of the project and the city would be obligated to pay back the $10 million plus 5% simple interest, with a cap of 110% of the total investment.

According to City Manager Rorie Watt, the first step for construction will be creating the gravel road, which he said is expected to begin in the spring or summer of this year.

City Finance Director Jeff Rogers said though this investment could be considered a “high-risk activity” for a municipality, he believes that the agreement will in the end be financially advantageous for both parties.

“This is very unique for us, as a city,” he said. “I think it represents the start of a very productive community partnership between the city government and a regional Native corporation.”

Mike Satre, board chair of Eaglecrest board of directors, spoke at the meeting in favor of the agreement. He urged the Assembly to approve the ordinance, and thanked Goldbelt for its willingness to invest in the project.

“The gondola is the key to our future and being self-sufficient as we move into the years ahead of us,” Satre said. “There are great protections here for both the city and Goldbelt should one party not meet its expectations.”

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

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