Downtown Anchorage Targeted for Revitalizing Infill and Redevelopment
Alaska Dispatch News reporter Devin Kelly writes about the myriad challenges of developing in Alaska's largest city, citing higher than average construction costs and a shorter construction season, among other reasons. In addition, state highways running through the heart of downtown and along its eastern edge creating a less than desirable urban atmosphere for pedestrians, bicyclists, and thousands of tourists who visit during the summer season.
Mayor Ethan Berkowitz took office in July 2015 and campaigned on an platform to revitalize downtown. Since that time city officials and private stakeholders have embraced the goal of bringing housing to downtown Anchorage as well as improving urban amenities. Working with Smart Growth America (SGA), a national non-profit based in Washington, D.C., the Berkowitz administration has crafted a strategy to start with "a few really good blocks."
"One rule of thumb is to achieve a minimum 2- to 4-block sequence that is continuously engaging people walking along the sidewalk," wrote Smart Growth America consultants Chris Zimmerman and Alex Hutchinson in the report produced last year.
"Like the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle or the East Village in New York City, the consultants suggested homing in on a small target area that now has parking lots. Anchorage could start with its own land to gauge developer interest," explains Kelly. "The city, under that theory, would have more control over its own land."