JUNEAU EMPIRE MAKES “NON-ANNOUNCEMENT” OF WAL MART PURCHASE. The Juneau Empire recently covered a short story on the sale of the Wal Mart location here. But the details were lacking. We predicted this over one year ago—and that was that in our opinion, the old Wal Mart location in Juneau would not sell to another big box retailer– nor would it be converted from its original intended use. As we predicted, the building was purchased by an investor group from Anchorage whose ultimate use remains unknown. Alex, LLC, which is the purchaser is also the owner of the Juneau Airport Mall. They also own substantial Hotel properties in Anchorage. It is impressive that they appear interested in what the community of Juneau believes the property could be used for. However, it will ultimately be up to the Juneau planning commission to determine if a different use (different from retail) will be permitted on that site.

THE PLANNING COMMISSION APPROVES THE PETERSON CREEK SUBDIVISION On February 28 the planning commission approved the CBJ’s new subdivision at Peterson Creek. This is the result of over four years of work by City planning staff in order to respond to the Assembly’s call for affordable housing to be built in Juneau. Beginning in 2013, the Assembly convened lenders, builders, planners and interested citizens to participate in a solution oriented effort to solve the long standing affordable housing “crisis” here. The lands committee and the Assembly moved to direct staff to begin work on the subdivision, which is located on a slope above the intersection of the Glacier Highway and Sherwood Lane. While many details will need to be worked out, this signals at least one effort to free up the current deadlock of new entry-level housing here.

LAND NEXT TO THE AIRPORT WINS APPROVAL FOR REZONE TO INDUSTRIAL. The planning Commission nearly unanimously approved the rezone of 45 acres of land across from Fred Meyer at the airport for Industrial use. Previously zoned Rural Reserve, which allows things such as trailer and camping parks, hotels and residential/ duplex housing.   The new Industrial location will likely transform the area to provide more airport related services and similar uses that now surround the airport including storage and distribution. The developer will be required to complete several approvals in the future for site development including site preparation, access, installation of utilities and actual subdivision of the land.

LATEST STATE OF ALASKA ECONOMIC TRENDS POINT TOWARD SOUTHEAST’S CONTINUED ECONOMIC RESILIENCE. State projections foretell another 300 government jobs will be lost in Southeast during 2017—most of them from Juneau, and most of them through attrition. Federal jobs will decline slightly—by about 50 positions, the January Department of Labor summary states. But the good news is that given the fact that Southeast did not experience the employment boom related to the oil and gas industries over the past 30 years, our economy “has had less ground to lose.” The same report suggests that construction jobs will continue to decline (by about 100) yet tourism will remain strong as it tends to mirror the national economy. Mining and health care are expected to remain steady the report says.