Mixed Use Development & Turnagain Crossing

When I lived in Washington, D.C. I fell in love with mixed use design.  Neighborhoods where people lived above or adjacent to businesses were consistently vibrant – there was always something going on, a buzz of activity and community. It seemed like so much fun to live above a restaurant or shop, to just run down the stairs for a coffee or pop down the street to your neighborhood bar.

In Seattle, many of my friends live in homes near Green Lake, and have multiple options for walking to and from restaurants and shops.  The little community hub is always busy and energetic, and seems to bring the neighborhood together in a social way.

In Anchorage, urban living is scarce.  And, to me at least, that means a vital piece of city development is barely available.  Why not maximise the urban experience so that we can have both great city living AND the great outdoors?

Mixed use development makes sense, especially for young professionals or people who are downsizing.  Families who are committed to living on a smaller scale and like urban living can also flourish in mixed use spaces. Anchorage has so many parks and so much access to wilderness, that people who choose to forgo their own personal yard in favor of condo living won’t be starved for green spaces (white spaces in Anchorage, considering our long winters). Single family homes located near development will be able to enjoy the same benefits, and property values will increase.

I think Anchorage would eagerly embrace this style of development – look at the success of Fire Island Bakery, plunked down in South Addition and over flowing with customers (can you imagine if there was some sort of live-above loft area – you could wake up to the smell of baking bread in the morning, and eat incredible chocolate chip cookies hot from the oven any time of the day; of course, you might gain a few lbs, but maybe you’d burn it by walking everywhere).

I have dream developments all over the city, but J.J. Brooks is actually making his come true. Turnagian Crossing will be located at the corner of Northern Lights and Turnagain Street.  It will feature residential/retail/office space anchored by a 3,000-sf cafe/bistro.  Kaladi Bros has already signed a lease, and I’ve heard murmurings about exciting things on the food front.

As someone who grew up in Turnagian and still frequents the neighborhood to visit family and friends, I think this is so cool. I imagine a leisurely walk in the evenings to dine on a wood fired pizza and enjoy a glass of wine, and in the mornings it would be so easy to stop by for a morning coffee and croissant.  Living and/or working in the development would be even better!

I can’t wait to see how Turnagain Crossing turns out, and am crossing my fingers for more developments like it in the future.

Do you have any parts of Anchorage you dream of developing? What do you think about mixed use design?

Author: Gretchen Fauske

I love Anchorage. I love what it is, what it's been, and what I dream it will be. I share my adventures with DJ (my husband), my fabulous family and friends, two frenchies named Grover and Teddy, and now, all of you. If you love Anchorage too, get in touch - guest posts are welcome!

4 thoughts on “Mixed Use Development & Turnagain Crossing”

  1. I love the idea of mixed-use. With Anchorage running short of land, now is the time more than ever for the city to embrace growth strategies that emphasize non automobile commuting and preserving exisiting open space for recreation. As for my dream developments, I’ve long thought that the blocks of surface parking lots in west Downtown are perfect for new infill. With an exisiting environment of walkability already in place, mixed use buildings will not be so isolated from their surroundings as they are elsewhere in town, but rather they will enhance the surroundings. Downtown especially needs to beef up its residential pop. if it is to ever become a self sustaining neighborhood and not one that is emptied out by 6pm with the exception of a few tourist milling around.

    1. Hi Marcus, I love your dream developments! I’m all for filling in parking lots, and totally agree that downtown needs more residents. I think someone has already looked into this and was deterred by the water table, but I think it would be cool to have a parking garage under the park strip, so from the top it would look the same, but underneath would be lots of room for vehicles. A girl can dream…

  2. I wholeheartedly agree. Turnagain Crossing is a great start, however, I find it unfortunate that Brooks had to essentially get a special waiver from the city to make this development happen. The municipality should encourage and prioritize these kinds of projects. A commercial space where I live in Bottleggers Cove would really set the neighborhood apart, as well as make it the first “walkable high density surface-parking free” neighborhood in Anchorage. I also feel that the city should see UAA as a partner in development goals. The University could be a thriving area with the addition of restaurants, shops, and more appealing housing options. There is so much foot traffic there during the day that essentially clears out at night. Given the amount of people, heavy use of public transit and the condensed space, it could be a great start implement new urbanist principles. Additionally, as the city begins to age, it would be great to see developments where seniors can live and have social activities without fear of dangerous winter sidewalks. Side note: I also lived in DC and Seattle before my move to Anchorage. Anchorage is in a unique position to learn from what makes those cities so vibrant, while also maintaining the access to the outdoors and relaxed quality of life. I feel like Anchorage is very up and coming.

    1. Thanks for the comment Eric! I totally agree with you – let’s learn from other cities as Anchorage continues to grow. And, I haven’t thought much about the University area, but you’re so right – shops, restaurants, cafes, and pubs would be a wonderful addition!

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