Kenai Landing site taking off

Former cannery progresses toward being destination resort

Posted: Thursday, February 17, 2005


  Jon Faulkner talks about developing Kenai Landing at Ward's Cove Cannery in Kenai. Clarion file photo by M. Scott M

Jon Faulkner talks about developing Kenai Landing at Ward's Cove Cannery in Kenai.

Clarion file photo by M. Scott M

By transforming old into new, the developers of Kenai Landing hope to bring new life to the Kenai waterfront.

Kenai Landing is the name given to a resort project at the site of the old Ward's Cove cannery at the mouth of the Kenai River.

The project began two years ago and the resort opened last summer. But because of the massive scope of the project — the old cannery includes more than a dozen buildings — constant upgrades are being made at the location in order to transform a complex of old buildings into a top-notch facility.

According to Rick Scott, Kenai Landing director of sales and marketing, work on a number of improvements is expected to begin showing big results this year.

"We've got a lot of work to do, but the plan is to have it ready for May," Scott said.

Major improvements at Kenai Landing planned for the near future include renovations to the dock, the addition of 16 new rooms, the addition of a boat launch facility and renovations at the resort's marketplace.

Although work is going on all around the property, things are beginning to shape up nicely, Scott said. Last year was the first that Kenai Landing's signature waterfront restaurant, Sockeye's, was open for dining and a number of shops operated for most of the summer at the marketplace.

This year, Scott said one of the most ambitious projects is to begin custom processing of seafood at the resort itself. The idea, he said, is to enable visitors to soak in the history of the area by being able to watch as fish are brought in from boats returning to the river, then processed right at the same site.

"The idea is to be able to let them come here and get a feel for what a commercial fishing processor is like," he said.

Visitors won't, however, be expected to step in and pull fish guts. Instead, the dock facility will be set up so that viewers aren't coming into contact with the slimy side of the process.

At the marketplace, Scott said there are ambitious plans to host as many as 60 shops, many to be run by local artists and craftspeople. The idea is to create a place where visitors can bathe in the unique culture of the area amid a vibrant historical setting.

"We want it to have that historical feel to it," he said.

Other planned improvements scheduled for the near future include the addition of a small theater at Sockeye's, a plan to eventually develop the site with as many as 48 condominiums and the addition of a small brewery.

Those improvements likely won't happen this year. For now, Scott said probably the biggest draw for Kenai Landing is the fact that it's right on the water and affords visitors spectacular views of the Kenai waterfront, as well as Cook Inlet and the Kenai Mountains to the east and Chigmit Mountains to the west. He hopes the improvements being made will give people a reason to stop in Kenai rather than just pass through town.

"A lot of people go through and don't see how beautiful it is here," he said.

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