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

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

Gondola project to get $10M boost by July

Assembly OKs revised revenue agreement with Goldbelt, construction expected next summer

Goldbelt Inc. has agreed to give the City and Borough of Juneau $10 million by no later than July 3 of this year in exchange for a share of the future revenues made by the city’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 Assembly at its Monday night meeting. It’s a revision to a previous agreement made in January.

Under the revised agreement, Goldbelt is now contracted to contribute $10 million toward the project, which will fund the construction of 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.

Goldbelt’s financial contribution to this project is in addition to the city’s $2 million already spent on the project before the agreement was made. According to the agreement, Goldbelt must allocate the $10 million in full to the city in one payment.

In exchange for the investment, Goldbelt — which is also the owner and operator of the popular Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway — 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.

Also in this revised agreement, if the gondola is not open by May 31, 2028, Goldbelt is allowed to back out of the agreement. The city can back out at any time, but with the caveat that it is required to pay Goldbelt additional interest if it does.

In an interview with the Empire after the meeting, Mike Satre, board chair of Eaglecrest’s board of directors said engineering and geotechnical work is already underway for the project, and once the $10 million is allocated in July, Eaglecrest hopes to construct the necessary small access roads needed for the project along with as much preliminary construction as can be done before the construction season ends.

Mike Satre, board chair of Eaglecrest’s board of directors talks with the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly at its Monday night meeting. Satre said the installation of the gondola likley won’t occur until the next construction season in the summer of 2024. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Mike Satre, board chair of Eaglecrest’s board of directors talks with the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly at its Monday night meeting. Satre said the installation of the gondola likley won’t occur until the next construction season in the summer of 2024. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

He said in all likelihood, the actual installation of the gondola won’t occur until the next construction season in the summer of 2024.

“We are going to do as much as we can to advance this project during this construction season,” he said.

During the meeting, Mayor Beth Weldon asked how close the $10 million from Goldbelt will be to the actual full cost of the project, to which Satre said the total cost of the project will likely remain unclear until further engineering and geotechnical work is done. He also indicated that the uncertainty of inflation could also play a role, and said he could not give a cost estimation of the project at this time.

“Originally, we had thought that with this kind of private investment, we’d be able to put the gondola up and have a variety of ancillary activities in a package to move forward, but as things have changed in the past year in a half our goal is to get the backbone up,” he said.

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

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