Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file

Opinion: Now is the time for a new City Hall

Here’s why.

  • By Jim Clark
  • Wednesday, September 28, 2022 6:27pm
  • Opinion

Now is the time for a new City Hall. I encourage my fellow community members to vote yes on Proposition 1 to allow for the construction of a new City Hall. The current proposed location is 450 Whittier St., between the state museum and Centennial Hall. The location and timing has combined to make this the right project right now.

Juneau’s City Hall workers and services are currently dispersed among five downtown locations that provide 49,936 square feet of space for 164 CBJ staff. Four of these locations are rented by the city. There is an estimated $12.7 million in deferred maintenance that will need to be invested the CBJ-owned City Hall building to keep it functional. So between annual rent and maintenance, we will be paying regardless, even if we don’t build a new building.

The timing and location of the new city hall provide the potential of a larger vision/collaboration that is serendipitous. There are several other projects with potential partner organizations in the same area, the Aak’w Village District (formally known as the Willoughby District).

1. The Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska has recently purchased two state buildings in the area (the DEC and DNR buildings) and has suggested it will be undertaking a planning process on redevelopment of the buildings.

2. The Juneau Arts & Culture Center is working toward having sufficient funds to raze the old building and construct a new one in the area. The proposed 44,500-square-foot facility would include a theater, event studio; and additional elements, such as a café, gallery, an atrium, a gift shop, and office spaces.

3. Centennial Hall. Centennial Hall is also going to be remodeled, and some of the meeting spaces can be developed to also meet overflow needs of a new city hall. Parking for Centennial and the JACC can also be planned in conjunction with each other, to minimize requirements, and maximize use of the space.

4. Huna Totem. Norwegian Cruise Lines recently gifted 2.9 acres of Juneau waterfront land, known as the Subport, to Huna Totem. Should plans to build a new cruise ship dock at that location be successful, Juneau’s largest cruise ships would be docking directly across the street from the district. Plans are currently to develop pedestrian access so that visitors could access both the new JACC and the State Museum (a 0.1-mile distance). Huna Totem plans to work with Juneau-based Goldbelt, Inc. and other Alaska Native corporations to complete the project.

5. State. The state of Alaska has parking garage work to do and is a potential partner for larger scale parking consolidation, so that surface parking could potentially be eliminated or significantly reduced.

With all the projects (City Hall, JACC, Centennial Hall, Huna Totem, Seawalk, Tlingit & Haida area redevelopment) happening at the same time – we have an opportunity that only comes along once every 100 years to develop a comprehensive, collaborative plan for the area that could benefit all of these groups and makes it the perfect time to make City Hall part of the same area. Join me in voting yes.

• Jim Clark is a local attorney and a longtime Juneau resident. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

More in Opinion

A roll of “I Voted” stickers await voters on Election Day in Alaska. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the prospect of a state constitutional convention. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Election winners, losers and poor losers

Tshibaka and Palin misread Alaskans by thinking Trump’s endorsement all but guaranteed they’d win.

Have something to say?

Here’s how to add your voice to the conversation.

Norwegian Cruise Lines announced in late August that it would donate a 2.9 acre plot of land owned by the cruise line since 2019 on Juneau's waterfront to Huna Totem Corporation to develop. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Aak’w Landing is Juneau’s most promising new project

Now, more than ever, our community needs the jobs, tax revenue, and stability…

Opinion: Freedom in the classroom sets precedence for the future

We advocate for the adoption of legislation to protect students’ First Amendment rights…

This photo available under a Creative Commons license shows a kelp forest. (Camille Pagniello)
Opinion: Indigenous-led mariculture and traditional economies set an example for our future

November is Native American Heritage Month, and traditional Indigenous knowledge is essential… Continue reading

Exhibit curator Ron Carver designed “Mỹ Lai – A Massacre Took 504 Souls, and Shook the World"  to progress from gruesome images to the soldiers who courageously intervened. And to those who made sure America and the world learned the truth. (Courtesy Photo)
Opinion: The power in attempting to memorialize the truth

Real heroes emerge from horrific events.

Opinion: My Turn was right on the money

While I’ve never met Mr. Adler I share his concerns.

(Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Mayor and assembly must rein in the assessor’s office

The unconscionable way the assessor’s office is treating commercial property owners must end.

This photo shows Diane Kaplan at Silver Salmon Camp. (Courtesy Photo / Sven Haakanson)
Opinion: Exciting new beginnings — they always come with sad farewells

Perhaps now is the right time to hand off our creation to the next generation.

Most Read