Despite my bent toward optimism, projections about Alaska’s economy are starting to wear on my rosy outlook. I worry that this place I love so much, brimming with the potential to become a “shining city upon a hill” and so full of incredible people working toward a vibrant future might slowly decline and lose its verve. And yet we are far from that, and every day I find new sources of hope.*
The housing market, including “housing starts” (construction of a new home), is one way to gauge future trends in an economy, and I’ve been happy to see three new projects in the downtown area:
- High end condos along the Park Strip at 10th and H
- Cook Inlet Townhomes at 10th and Cordova
- Downtown Edge at The Rail (construction slated to start August 2017)
I’m most excited about the Downtown Edge, designed by lumen design. For years, we’ve discussed developing the Ship Creek area (remember this master plan?) and this project is the first step towards really making something happen.
The full development, The Rail, will include luxury townhomes, apartment suites, retail/restaurant space, an outdoor performance venue and parks connected to the coastal trail. The location is ideal, just steps away from Ship Creek fishing and all the amenities that downtown offers. After the luxury condos are built, the next phase will be more affordable apartments in a mixed use building. I’ve heard rumors that the first anchor tenant might be a brewery, which would be pretty cool.
Here’s more about the press event announcing the project: Condo development planned for Ship Creek owned by Alaska Railroad.
Downtown is the heart of Anchorage (although our parks are trails are equally as important) and offering housing for all income levels, from affordable to luxury, will be an economic boon to nearby businesses. It also means a consistent presence of people invested in safe, clean spaces around them, and downtown living lends itself to a walkable lifestyle, lessening the need for residents to drive and minimizing automobile impacts on the city.
The development is notable because of the numerous parties involved: the Alaska Railroad, The Petersen Group, The Ship Creek Group, the Municipality of Anchorage, and the Downtown Partnership all played a role in The Rail. It takes a lot of work and a clear, shared vision to make something like this happen, and although it’s not uncommon in the Lower 48, it’s new to Anchorage.
With strong leadership and people who care about our city doing what they can to make a difference, whether it’s investing in new housing, creating an arts commons or something else, our future will certainly be bright.
*Here’s another source of hope: Let’s give thanks for an Anchorage that thrives as a welcoming community by our Mayor and First Lady.