Juneau may no longer need a Blockbuster thanks to the advent of online movie-streaming services. But it does need housing, and that’s exactly what designers Jeremy Bauer and Jason Clifton have planned for the movie-rental company’s former downtown location, which they recently bought.
“We’re looking to modernize the building and streamline it as a whole,” Clifton said, explaining that he and Bauer are currently working to turn the former Blockbuster store into a mixed-use building — two commercial units on the ground floor and three residential units upstairs.
In February 2015, Border Entertainment, the company that owned Juneau’s two Blockbuster franchises, announced that it was closing both of the stores. At the time, Alan Payne, the owner of the Texas-based company, told the Empire that he decided to close the stores due to declining profits. The downtown location, which Payne used to call the “house store,” was the first to go.
A little more than a year after the store closed, Bauer and Clifton closed on it. Coincidentally their project bears a name similar to Payne’s old nickname for the shop — only its in German.
The design duo is calling the project Haus Alaska, and by early fall it may be a home to several new tenants, residential and commercial alike. Bauer and Clifton’s interior design firm, Bauer/Clifton Interiors, has reserved one of the ground floor commercial spots, but the two are still looking for a business to fill the other 600 square-foot unit.
The building’s 2,100 square-foot second floor is poised to become two two-bedroom apartments and a studio apartment. Each of the two-bedroom units will be about 800 square feet and the studio will be about 500 square feet. Bauer said he and Clifton don’t yet have a price set for these units, and they aren’t aiming to hit a specific price point either. They’re working with a design-first mentality.
“We have a desire to make an impact in Juneau,” Bauer said. “This is definitely going to be a new take on the standard apartment here. It’s definitely upscale; it’s like something you’d see in Seattle that’s just not available in Juneau.”
Bauer and Clifton are drawing their inspiration for the project from the black, tar-covered wooden homes and churches in the mountains of Iceland. These homes feature hard lines, sleek edges and sharp contrast, all of which Bauer and Clifton hope to incorporate into Haus Alaska.
Turning an old Blockbuster into a modern, Iceland-inspired, mixed-use building isn’t easy though. The two-story building, 4,102 square feet in all, which Clifton called “pretty awkward,” only had six windows when the two bought it. This may be acceptable for a movie shop but not for Bauer and Clifton. They’ve already cut more than 20 windows into the building to allow for more natural light.
The two purchased the building together but not as Bauer/Clifton Interiors. Their firm is working on the project though, which Clifton said has made for a “different” but “incredibly inspiring” experience.
“The wheels are always turning from a design standpoint and from an owner standpoint,” Clifton said. One of those ideas was to use social media to market their project.
Haus Alaska has Instagram and Facebook accounts, which Bauer and Clifton use to keep the community up to date on the project. Clifton lives in the Flats, near where the building is located, and Bauer lives in the Highlands. It was important to both designers to keep the community in the loop, and so far so good, they said.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a project site that has included the community through social media like this,” Bauer said. “The Flats is a tight-knit community, and it’s been really fun for them to welcome us in.”
He and Clifton are currently taking names of interested tenants, both commercial and residential.
• Contact reporter Sam DeGrave at 523-2279 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.