After years of talk about developing Anchorage's Ship Creek neighborhood, an industrial waterfront area in downtown, construction is finally on the horizon.
The Alaska Railroad Corp. and developers on Monday announced plans for a mixed-use development called The Rail, intended to breathe new life into Ship Creek.
It will start with a new neighborhood called Downtown Edge, comprising 28 townhouse-style condos at the corner of West Second Avenue and Christensen Drive. Building is expected to begin in August.
The Rail is slated for 11 acres of railroad-owned land in Ship Creek. Developers plan to eventually bring retail, restaurants, other housing and event space there as well.
"People want to live downtown," said former Gov. Bill Sheffield, vice chair of the Alaska Railroad Board of Directors, at an event to announce the development. "They work downtown, they want to live downtown."
Ship Creek Development LLC is the entity spearheading the project, with Anchorage builder and developer The Petersen Group as part of that partnership.
The railroad and the city have "long envisioned a community development approach that blends residential, recreational, industrial and business uses within the Ship Creek basin," the railroad said in a statement.
"There will be connectivity and walkability throughout The Rail, to the coastal trail, streets and sidewalks," said Bob Petersen, president of The Petersen Group and Ship Creek Development. "That's a big key to this project."
In 2013, the city hired an architecture firm to author a plan on how to redevelop Ship Creek. Over the years, there have been many suggestions for how to revitalize the area.
"We haven't had any new housing construction in downtown for more than 20 years. That is too long," said Mayor Ethan Berkowitz. "If we want to have a vibrant city, we need to have a vibrant, growing downtown. … I'm very excited about what's going to happen."
The project has a 95-year lease on the railroad's land and will generate $72,000 per year for the Alaska Railroad to start, with increases every few years.
Reserved homes in the Downtown Edge development are expected to be completed by spring next year, the railroad said. Prices for those condos start around $400,000.