Another affordable housing project in Juneau is on the horizon — though the move-in day is likely still a couple of years away.
On Monday night the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly OK’d an ordinance to transfer about 11.5 acres of city-owned land on Pederson Hill to the Tlingit Haida Regional Housing Authority for less than fair market value.
“I think we’re trying to have housing projects going on all kinds of fronts and this is another piece of the puzzle,” said City Manager Rorie Watt in an interview Wednesday. “This is one of many actions the city is taking to improve the housing situation.”
According to THRHA, it plans to use the land — located past Brotherhood Bridge on Glacier Highway before Swampy Acres — to develop affordable housing. The land is appraised by the city at about $700,000 in value, but if THRHA meets the city’s conditions of the conveyance agreement it will only pay $100,000.
“We are thrilled to be a partner in helping the city seek solutions for affordable housing in Juneau,” said Jacqueline Kus.een Pata, president and CEO of THRHA, in an interview Wednesday.
Of the homes to be built on the lot, THRHA has agreed to sell 50% of them to low-income tribal citizens and the other 50% to moderate-income Juneau residents. Watt said the construction of about 80 homes is feasible for the subdivision’s size.
According to a letter sent to the city in August 2022, THRHA anticipates the purchase price of the moderate-size homes (1,200-1,400 square feet) planned to be built on the property to be about $450,000. Pata said THRHA may be able to reduce the amount of the mortgage below the purchase price. For comparison, the median assessed value for a home in Juneau in 2022 was about $527,000, according to city data.
David Ignell, a Juneau resident, said during public testimony Monday night he had many issues with the land conveyance, one of them being the estimated purchase price of the homes.
“That doesn’t sound like low-income housing to me,” he said.
Pata said the next steps for the area once the conveyance happens will be continuing to seek funding for the future developments, which she said likely won’t start until the 2024 construction season.
An environmental assessment of the area is already underway, Pata noted. She said it could also take some time before that is complete as well, but it is THRHA’s hope to see the first families moving in during 2025.
“We have preliminary funds to start the first phase of site development, but a lot of permitting and planning still needs to be done,” she said. “We are looking for multiple places of funding so it can be as diversified as possible income-wise to meet the needs of the people in Juneau.”
Negotiations for the agreement have been in the works since September of 2022 when THRHA first requested the Assembly consider a negotiated sale or disposal of the 11.5 acres of land. At the same time another private entity, Moline Investment Management, applied to the city with the proposal of purchasing approximately 10 acres of city property within a D10 zone — meaning it can hold up to 10 units per acre, or potentially 50 to 100 housing units.
Moline’s negotiations are still in the works, Watt said, but an update on the proposed purchase will likely be shared with the Assembly soon.
• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at email@example.com or (651)-528-1807.