The Sealaska Heritage Institute’s downtown arts campus is under construction, Sept. 3, 2020. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

The Sealaska Heritage Institute’s downtown arts campus is under construction, Sept. 3, 2020. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

New arts campus construction proceeding on schedule

Work continues without presence of more than a million visitors.

As many residents of downtown Juneau and Douglas are likely aware, construction downtown on Sealaska Heritage Institute’s arts campus has entered a new and energetically noisy phase.

“Things are going fairly well,” said Lee Kadinger, SHI’s chief of operations. “We’ll spend the next couple weeks driving pile around the perimeter of the campus.”

The piles are being driven in to shore up the edges of the area SHI will have excavated, Kadinger said, as turning a street into a pit often offends. The process will be wrapped up in several weeks, barring any unforeseen circumstances.

“We haven’t come across any obstacles,” Kadinger said. “When we did the Walter Soboleff Building, we encountered some old logs 15 feet down that created obstruction.”

SHI is working with Dawson Construction, a Bellingham, Washington-based construction company with substantial presence in Juneau who helped construct SHI’s Walter Soboleff Building, which is located across the street from the home of the progressing Sealaska Heritage Arts Campus.

[Cruise control: Activists voice goals for cruise industry reform]

“They have experience working with the site conditions. They know fairly well what to expect,” Kadinger said. “They’re a pretty large local presence. All of our major subcontractors are from Juneau.”

The project’s biggest difficulty will be the perennial enemy of any construction in Juneau — the cold.

“It’ll be a several-month process of digging before we begin pouring concrete. We’re racing against the freeze,” Kadinger said. “If it gets cold pretty early in October, we’ll have to look at things like tenting and heating.”

The project is mostly but not fully funded. So far about $10.4 million of the projected $13.2 million has been raised. It was launched last month to simply get it started, as well as to help stimulate the local economy, Kadinger said. Construction on the currently funded portions of the campus is slated for completion mid-to-late summer of 2021.

“We’re doing a phased approach where we can complete a majority and add on other elements as the funding comes in,” Kadinger said. “We decided it’s best for Juneau and the community to move forward. It creates 55 well-paying jobs and that helps the economy.”

The economy may receive a small boost very soon, Kadinger said, as increasing numbers of construction workers onsite downtown search for ready sources of food and coffee.

“We ask business owners to please be patient. More business will be coming as we staff up the project,” Kadinger said. “With all the street closures happening, it is creating some congestion issues as we close down some more streets. If there’s any year to do this in the least disruptive way, this is that year, without having a million people wandering an active construction site.”

Still, Kadinger said, feedback has been positive.

“Seeing kind of a dream come reality is always exciting. It’s still a little nervewracking when we’re in the opening stages here, and we’re wrapping up the funding of the project,” Kadinger said. “The community of Juneau is extremely excited. We’ve had a stream of positive comments coming in.”

While SHI is still looking for additional funding from the City and Borough of Juneau to complete the project, without the community, it would have been impossible to even begin, Kadinger said. The CBJ Finance Committee tabled a request for a further $2.5 million for a future vote at a meeting Wednesday

“I want to thank the community for their support. I want to thank the Assembly members. I think they’ve been extremely supportive of this vision,” Kadinger said. “If not for the community members and the Assembly, none of this would be here.”

Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com

More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Nov. 27

Mountain reflections are seen from the Mendenhall Wetlands. (Courtesy Photo / Denise Carroll)
Wild Shots: Photos of Mother Nature in Alaska

Superb reader-submitted photos of wildlife, scenery and/or plant life.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
At Wednesday evening’s special Assembly meeting, the Assembly appropriated nearly $4 million toward funding a 5.5% wage increase for all CBJ employees along with a 5% increase to the employer health contribution. According to City Manager Rorie Watt, it doesn’t necessarily fix a nearly two decade-long issue of employee retention concerns for the city.
City funds wage increase amid worker shortage

City Manager says raise doesn’t fix nearly two decade-long issue of employee retainment

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Dec. 3

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Molly Yazwinski holds a 3,000-year-old moose skull with antlers still attached, found in a river on Alaska’s North Slope. Her aunt, Pam Groves, steadies an inflatable canoe. (Courtesy Photo /Dan Mann)

 

2. A 14,000-year-old fragment of a moose antler, top left, rests on a sand bar of a northern river next to the bones of ice-age horses, caribou and muskoxen, as well as the horns of a steppe bison. Photo by Pam Groves.

 

3. Moose such as this one, photographed this year near Whitehorse in the Yukon, may have been present in Alaska as long as people have. Photo by Ned Rozell.
Alaska Science Forum: Ancient moose antlers hint of early arrival

When a great deal of Earth’s water was locked up within mountains… Continue reading

FILE - Freight train cars sit in a Norfolk Southern rail yard on Sept. 14, 2022, in Atlanta. The Biden administration is saying the U.S. economy would face a severe economic shock if senators don't pass legislation this week to avert a rail worker strike. The administration is delivering that message personally to Democratic senators in a closed-door session Thursday, Dec. 1.  (AP Photo / Danny Karnik)
Congress votes to avert rail strike amid dire warnings

President vows to quickly sign the bill.

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire
Juneau state Sen. Jesse Kiehl, left, gives a legislative proclamation to former longtime Juneau Assembly member Loren Jones, following Kiehl’s speech at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce’s weekly luncheon Thursday at the Juneau Moose Family Center.
Cloudy economy, but sunnier political outlook lie ahead for lawmakers, Kiehl says

Juneau’s state senator tells Chamber of Commerce bipartisan majority a key to meaningful action

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Friday, Dec. 2

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Hunter credits community members for Thanksgiving rescue

KENAI — On Thanksgiving, Alaska Wildlife Troopers released a dispatch about a… Continue reading

Most Read