Interest grows for Main Street
Ventures are underway that could help breathe life back into Main Street, including a proposal by the Haines Brewing Company to buy Haines Borough land downtown.
Brewery owners Paul Wheeler and Jeanne Kitayama are hoping to buy 20,000 square feet of land on Fourth and Main to build a new, L-shaped 2,700-square-foot building for their business.
“By relocating to the downtown area, we will be more accessible to both Haines visitors and locals. With the larger tasting room and seating we can accommodate more customers and increase tour sizes,” Wheeler and Kitayama wrote in a letter to the Haines Borough Planning Commission.
The commission will consider whether to recommend classifying the land for sale at its meeting Thursday, June 12. Their recommendation then goes to the assembly.
Wheeler and Kitayama are requesting only the northern portion of the lot at Fourth and Main, which would still leave room for development of a public park at Third and Main.
“By selling this property to the Haines Brewing Company, the borough would be supporting one of Haines’ few local manufacturing businesses and developing the downtown area. In addition, this expansion of our business would mean employing at least one more person and (would) provide increased sales and property tax revenue,” Wheeler and Kitayama said.
The two said they would hope to open their doors for business a year after purchasing and permitting are complete.
In addition to the potential construction of a new building on Main Street, an old building is getting some new tenants.
Lynn Canal Counseling Services is moving from its Willard Street location into the long-vacant Ellingen building, sometimes called the “Susie Q’s” building, on Main Street.
Renovations to the building are underway, and LCCS will start seeing clients at its new location July 1.
LCCS executive director Kelly Williamson said the board voted to lease the Ellingen building after discovering the Veterans Village office complex would not be ready for move-in by the end of the nonprofit’s current lease.
One of the building’s storefronts will act as the front office with a reception and waiting area, while the other storefront will be for case management. The area behind reception will house counselor offices, and the existing downstairs apartment will be turned into administration offices and a break room.
The board hasn’t decided what to do with the large upstairs apartment yet, though the kitchen and downstairs laundry facilities may mean the nonprofit can offer more services to its clients who struggle to meet their basic needs.
“We’re super excited about it. It’s a really neat opportunity we never even dreamed of,” Williamson said.
The lease is for a minimum of one year, and the LCCS board will reevaluate at the end of the year to see if it wants to move, lease for longer or purchase the building.
Loyd King, who owns the Ellingen building, previously wanted to sell the building, but after talking to his real estate agent, decided to lease it. “They are really considering buying it,” King said.
“It’s better that the place is occupied instead of just sitting there,” he added.
Also, owners of the historic Coliseum Theater building recently dropped their price for the structure to get the building sold.
The asking price for the building, criticized by some potential buyers and nearby store owners as unreasonable, recently dropped from $425,000 to $298,900.
Real estate agent John Williams of Juneau Real Estate said he visited Haines in May to show the building to a potential buyer, and talked to people in town to gauge “the overall market situation.”
“I provided an analysis to the owners and recommended that if their desire is to get it sold, then we should drop the price,” Williams said.
The building is owned by Gross Alaska, Inc.
A project displaying art in Main Street windows will expand, with the Alaska Arts Confluence striking an informal deal with the Bennett family to decorate the large windows of the L.A.B. Flying Service building with locally-made art and products until the structure sells.
Eric Bennett said he is working with Alaska Arts Confluence founder Carol Tuynman to install window displays in the unoccupied building.
“There has been little proactive work done in Haines to make things happen, and I think this would be a proactive move to stimulate some activity downtown,” Bennett said.
While Bennett said he thinks the borough should be helping more to revitalize downtown, proactive private organizations like Tuynman’s group “could be the answer to bringing Haines out of the doldrums.”
Tuynman’s plan for the windows includes installing three different displays. One group of three windows will model a room, like the displays at furniture stores. However, all the furniture and products in the display will be locally made.
The middle two windows will showcase local art and products, and the final two windows will feature a photo montage of the history of L.A.B. Flying Service.
“Our agreement is that we will put displays in that can be taken out in 30 days if the building sells,” Tuynman said.
Bennett said roof repairs on the building are starting next week and he will begin formally showing the building to potential buyers soon.