Committee gets update on new JACC

Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - An Assembly committee took the first step toward decisions on building a new Juneau Arts and Culture Center.

The Public Works Committee reviewed a power point presentation on the latest developments of the facility.   The facility has been in the plan for Juneau since 1973.  Since 1983, every Comprehensive Plan has included a new Juneau Arts & Culture Center, almost always locating the facility adjacent to Centennial Hall.  The current JACC, in the old armory since 2008, has done a great job, developing arts and entertainment in Juneau.

"It is now a thriving hub of artistic and economic activity for Juneau," John Cloud said.

He said the other facilities in the community are not a good platform to meet Juneau's future needs.  Through a variety of efforts by volunteers, the new JACC plans are shovel-ready.

The plans are considered 65-percent construction ready.  Cloud said those plans meet the needs of users in a cost-efficient and sustainable manner.

"I think it can be the heartbeat of the community and its needs into the future.  This facility could be the town square of Juneau, not only for user groups and for our community, but also the 1.3 million visitors that come here each year."

He said it would a magnet to bring other year-round activities to Juneau.  He mentioned conventions, meetings, and different activities.

The Juneau Arts and Humanities Council now manages Centennial Hall.  Cloud said user groups have been very pleased with the change.

Cloud said he anticipates 75-percent of the project to come from private funds.

"I think its really good that it is in your hands now.  The committee and the assembly have to decide on public funds. Private citizens can raise a lot of money and promise to raise more. "

One option is connecting Centennial Hall and the new JACC.  It would include a covered walkway to connect the two structures.

Project Manager Bob Banghart said a fully developed inter-connection between Centennial Hall and the new JACC would include more lobby space, room for more activities, and more room to lease.  "It is a cohesive marriage between the two buildings for heating operations that save on operating costs."

Another option is a remodeled Centennial Hall with a full second story that includes most of the original features of the new JACC.

Banghart said an important issue is making the facility economical to operate.  Centennial Hall currently measures 45,000 square feet.  The proposed addition with the larger lobby would measure 48,000 square feet.

Assembly member Rob Edwardson said he supports putting a funding package for the new JACC on the ballot.  He said he considered three concepts when he developed his opinion on the project, public purpose, public interest and public good.  He said this project meets these three criteria.

"The next step is the financial estimates for how much this will cost.  Another question is how would we pay for this."

He listed general obligation bonds as one of the options.  Other options are sales taxes.

"We've been making do with our facilities, we've been compromising, it's adapt or die kind of situation.  This community has a mature creative process and it has gotten deeper and more sophisticated.  We have some world-class artists and we don't do anything to underscore that," Banghart added.

He said this would be a town center for Juneau for generations to come.

Supporters said it will create jobs and be good for the economy.

The Public Works Committee plans to continue meeting to discuss the project on March 27, April 15 and May 1.  Issues to be discussed include funding options.  She also would like a panel of community groups like the Downtown Business Association and the Juneau Economic Development Council to get together and discuss the project.





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