A blueprint shows the planned second phase of a commercial and resident development project in downtown Juneau, which is currently used by seasonal food trucks and where the historic Elks Lodge was located. (Illustration by Northwind Architects submitted to the City and Borough of Juneau)

A blueprint shows the planned second phase of a commercial and resident development project in downtown Juneau, which is currently used by seasonal food trucks and where the historic Elks Lodge was located. (Illustration by Northwind Architects submitted to the City and Borough of Juneau)

What’s next for old Elks Lodge site? Owner proposes ‘South Franklin Food Court and Housing’

Indoor/outdoor pavilion, food trucks, restaurant and up to 100 housing units in plan.

A multistory indoor/outdoor pavilion to provide seating for food trucks, plus an adjacent restaurant and up to 100 housing units are envisioned at the site of the former downtown Elks Lodge downtown and an adjacent lot, according to an application by the owner of the properties and other stakeholders.

The proposal for the space on South Franklin Street, including the Elks Lodge built in 1908 that was mostly torn down as of this week, was reviewed at a City and Borough Community Development Department conference on Aug. 9, according to a report of the meeting issued Aug. 18.

[Historic Elks Lodge torn down, contrary to owner’s claim action was likely months away]

A multi-phase process is proposed beginning with commercial development along Franklin Street, with housing “in either the second or a third phase of development” behind a retaining wall to the rear of the commercial space, according to the report.

Nine people participated in the Aug. 9 conference including David McCasland as the property owner and an applicant, three other applicants with Northwind Architects, plus city development and fire officials.

McCasland did not respond to an email from the Empire on Friday asking about specifics of the proposed project such as the timeline for development and types of structures envisioned.

Downtown Juneau properties owned by David McCasland, including the site of the former Elks Lodge that was demolished this week, are the proposed site for a permanent commercial food operation and housing, according to city documents. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Downtown Juneau properties owned by David McCasland, including the site of the former Elks Lodge that was demolished this week, are the proposed site for a permanent commercial food operation and housing, according to city documents. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

The vacant lot owned by McCasland next to the Elks Lodge became the Franklin Food Court in 2019, featuring his Deckhand Dave’s food stall along with others that operated during the cruise ship season. In August of 2022 he proposed a permanent commercial facility on the property that would include a multistory eating area with an outdoor performance space.

“Parts of the food court will be open year round, parts will be seasonal, depending on many factors such as leases from other businesses and the impending possible purchase of the Elks Hall,” wrote Shannon Crossley of Northwind Architects, in a memo to city permit officials. “The number of food trucks hasn’t been decided upon quite yet, but the client is planning on 6‐8 total.”

McCasland also noted at the time he was in negotiations to purchase the Elks Lodge building, which would affect the scope of the proposed project. After he purchased the property, a demolition permit for the building was issued by the city on July 25 of this year.

The revised proposal discussed a month later contained significant modifications from the original proposal.

“The plans have changed to include housing, potentially up to 100 units,” the report from the conference states. “Additionally, Applicant still proposes a multi-story indoor/outdoor pavilion that would provide seating for food trucks, and possibly for operations out of the restaurant to the northwest (old Elk’s Hall).”

In a written statement to the Planning Commission on May 12, McCasland offered some specifics about the housing he is proposing.

“On the upper portion of both my properties I plan to build an apartment building to create housing for the downtown area…I’m going to build two levels of parking below the apartments,” he wrote.

McCasland’s properties include the site of the former Gastineau Apartments, which was desolated after a 2012 fire and demolished as a public nuisance in 2016. A private development group in 2021 proposed a 72-unit private Gastineau Lodge Apartments, which failed to come to fruition.

A complication for the current project proposed by McCasland is a conditional use permit will be required because the property is in a “severe hazard zone” for avalanches and landslides, the mapping and regulations of which are the subject of ongoing discussions by the city Assembly and other officials.

Another is a proposal to make a five-story building where a portion of the Elks Lodge stood “taller than neighboring Baranof Hotel,” according to the report.

“While (Capital City Fire/Rescue) has tall ladder trucks, this could be problematic if the structure exceeds capabilities,” the report notes. “This may require fire/life safety features such as sprinkler systems with standpipe connections which are in addition to regular sprinkler system requirements, and fire alarm systems requiring building evacuation features which are in addition to the minimum fire code requirement for fire alarm system.”

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

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