Downtown Anchorage businesses express frustration about proposed temporary transit hub location

A downtown construction project that’s been long in the making is a step closer to becoming a reality. However, one part of the project has some businesses worr
Published: Mar. 8, 2022 at 7:05 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A downtown Anchorage construction project that’s been long in the making is a step closer to becoming a reality. However, one part of the project has some businesses worried that they will have to relocate.

Some business owners in downtown Anchorage are upset with city leaders and are demanding their voices be heard.

Construction on the highly anticipated 6th Avenue Parking Mall is projected to begin in October. However, the People Mover transit hub located at the parking structure will have to be temporarily relocated three blocks down 6th Avenue between C and E Street.

“It’s gonna kill my business,” said Circular Boutique owner Kim Stalder. “I’m finally coming out of COVID, all of us are. We’re starting to see a little light and to throw something like this at us now is just, is really tough.”

She said hers and five other businesses will lose about eight parking spaces located across the street from their storefronts.

“Definitely for me it will mean a huge loss in revenue,” Stalder said. “My customers are — they’re busy, they need to have convenient parking.”

Right next to the street side parking spaces is the JC Penny public parking structure, but some of the local business owners said the structure really won’t help address their issues.

“I think a lot of it is cultural. For one thing, we live in Alaska and so Alaskans tend not to be that much of walkers,” said Jeremy Cubas, CEO of Madmen Studios. “... telling our customers ‘hey, park two blocks (away) or the parking lot over there, they kind of don’t want to do that and so it’s more of an irritation for them.”

Another concern for them is people loitering at the transit hub. In a statement to Alaska News Source, Tent City Taphouse co-owner John Snead said that when the municipality did a trial run of the location in June 2020, they “immediately saw an increase in people loitering in our stores wanting to use the restrooms while waiting for their bus. No restrooms were provided by the MOA.”

Cubas said it was also common to see disruptive and destructive behavior.

“People our customers really don’t feel comfortable walking next to, especially if they are coming alone or if they are a younger female,” Cubas said.

In the end Stalder said the businesses, as well as some customers, are looking to start a letter writing campaign to Mayor Dave Bronson’s office, asking the public transportation department to look for an alternative site.

“I am kind of feeling 50-50,” Cubas said.

Alaska’s News Source heard from Bronson’s office late Tuesday afternoon in a written statement that said:

“After proposing and reviewing multiple sites in downtown, Transit was directed to relocate its entire operations by the former Municipal Manager and former Mayor (Berkowitz) to Nordstrom/ JC Penney’s in preparation for construction that was slated to take place in 2020.

As directed, the work surrounding that effort has already been completed. Transit does not currently possess the funding, an alternative location, technology, nor the time to recreate that work prior to the construction date identified by ACDA.

The Municipality of Anchorage is working to find a solution that meets the needs of the business owners as well as those who depend on public transportation to get around town to their jobs, other businesses, and their homes. The Municipality of Anchorage has offered alternative options to the businesses who will be affected by the temporary relocation of the transit hub.

The Municipality of Anchorage is confident that a solution can be made that works for both groups.”

Deputy Municipal Manager Kolby Hickel

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