Borough commits $2.2 million to develop residential subdivision

The borough’s target date is 2024 for the sale of the first 22 residential lots in the proposed subdivision of the former Wrangell Institute property upland from Shoemaker Bay.

The assembly last month approved $2.2 million for installing utilities and putting in streets across a portion of the 134-acre property, which the borough acquired in 1996.

“Our goal is to start construction this fall,” Borough Manager Jeff Good said last week. “That’s our target right now.”

The borough is moving closer to receiving its U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit to fill a small area of tidelands at the property, Good said, and is working with the Wrangell Cooperative Association to ensure the development is sensitive to the historical nature of the site.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs operated the Native boarding school from 1932 to 1975. Demolition of the school buildings was completed about 20 years ago.

The subdivision will be named Alder Top Village, after the traditional Tlingit place name Keishangita.’aan.

The subdivision design work is about one-third complete with Ketchikan-based R&M Engineering. Bids for the water, sewer and electric utilities and streets could go out as soon as this summer.

The sales prices for the lots will be determined by an appraisal, Good explained, based on the value after the improvements are in place. The lots in the first phase will range from 0.39 to 0.54 acres, about 23,500 square feet.

The $2.2 million approved unanimously by the assembly at its Dec. 22 meeting is intended to cover in full the development costs of Phase I of the subdivision and some of the work, such as gravel roads, for Phase II. Good explained that revenues from the sale of the first phase would provide the additional funds needed to complete the work for the second phase of 20 more lots.

The assembly approved taking about $1.53 million from sales tax revenues, and charging the borough’s water, sewer and electric funds a combined $673,000 to cover the development budget. Borough staff explained that those self-supporting utility accounts would gain additional revenues from new hook-ups and should share in the expense of developing the property.

Wrangell’s housing market has been tight for years, and borough officials have long talked of developing the former Institute property to make land available for new construction.

Assemblymember Dave Powell spoke at the Dec. 20 meeting in favor of burying utility lines at the subdivision, and Good said last week the borough would take a serious look at that option.

“Anybody that lives on this hill, that looks this way can attest that they’d really like to have some wires out of their view,” Powell said at the meeting. “If we’re going to do something like this, I would like to make it appealing for people to buy the property.”


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