A long-awaited development project in downtown Anchorage is one step closer to becoming a reality. However, several firms are concerned that they will have to relocate as a result of one aspect of the project.
Some downtown Anchorage business owners are angry with municipal officials and want their opinions to be heard.
The highly anticipated 6th Avenue Parking Mall is set to begin construction in October. The People Mover transit hub, which is now located in the parking garage, will be temporarily relocated three blocks along 6th Avenue between C and E Streets.
“It’s going to ruin my business,” said Kim Stalder, owner of Circular Boutique. “I’m finally out of COVID, as are the rest of us.” We’re starting to see the light, and throwing something like this at us right now is just too much.”
She claims that her shop, along with five others, will lose around eight parking places across the street from their storefronts.
“It will undoubtedly result in a significant financial loss for me,” Stalder added. “My clientele are — they’re busy, and they require easy parking.”
The JC Penny public parking structure is right adjacent to the street side parking spaces, but some local business owners say it won’t help them with their problems.
“I believe a lot of it has to do with culture.” For one thing, we reside in Alaska, and Alaskans aren’t very fond of walking,” said Jeremy Cubas, Madmen Studios’ CEO. “…asking our customers to park two streets away or in the parking lot over there, they don’t want to do that, so it’s more of an annoyance for them.”
People loitering near the transit hub is another source of concern for them. Tent City Taphouse co-owner John Snead claimed in a statement to Alaska News Source that when the municipality tested the location in June 2020, they “immediately witnessed an increase in folks loitering in our establishments wanting to use the facilities while waiting for their bus.” The MOA did not supply any restrooms.”
According to Cubas, disruptive and destructive behavior was also widespread.
“People our clients don’t feel safe going next to,” Cubas added, “particularly if they’re coming alone or if they’re a younger female.”
Finally, Stalder added that the companies, as well as some customers, are planning to launch a letter-writing campaign to Mayor Dave Bronson’s office, requesting that the public transit agency look for a new location.
“I’m kind of on the fence,” Cubas said.
Bronson’s office sent a written statement to Alaska’s News Source late Tuesday afternoon, saying:
“After proposing and reviewing numerous sites in downtown, the former Municipal Manager and former Mayor (Berkowitz) authorized Transit to shift its complete operations to Nordstrom/JC Penney’s in preparation for construction in 2020.”
The work associated with that initiative has already been done as directed. Transit does not now have the funds, a new location, technology, or the time to repeat that work by the ACDA’s building deadline.
The City of Anchorage is striving to establish a solution that fits the interests of both business owners and individuals who rely on public transportation to get to work, other companies, and their homes. The City of Anchorage has provided alternative choices to businesses that would be impacted by the transit hub’s temporary relocation.
The City of Anchorage is optimistic that a solution can be found that benefits all parties.”