Back road is first choice for builders

Salamatof wants to add to Marathon Road real estate boom with new office complex

Posted: Tuesday, June 13, 2006

It appears that if any more development is planned there, Kenai Mayor Pat Porter might have to consider moving the town clock to Marathon Road.

The city built its Pacific Rim Institute of Safety and Management (PRISM) fire training center there, the state put up its Kenai Peninsula Youth Facility there and Wal-Mart and Lowe’s are planning big box stores for the original dirt access road to the oil patch.

Now the Salamatof Native Association Inc. is eying the increasingly popular thoroughfare as the address for its office building campus.

The Native association and its legal representative appeared before the Kenai City Council last week proposing to purchase 16.1 acres of city-owned land north of the youth detention facility.

Salamatof President and Chief Executive Officer Penny Carty told the council the “initial office building would be around 10,000 square feet.”

In a letter to the city, Carty said construction would begin within two years and the cost would be between $390,000 and $465,000.

Representing Salamatof, Kenai attorney Blaine Gilman said the association is planning to build a commercial building within the city of Kenai for its own offices and for other tenants.

“They want a large enough piece of property to have a campus,” Gilman said.

The land, known as Tract A of the Baron Park Subdivision, is airport reserve land formerly released by the Federal Aviation Administration for lease or sale for nonairport purposes.

It was advertised in 2004 following a request from Aspirations, Inc., which wanted to build a long-term residential treatment facility for youth, but no bids were received.

City Manager Rick Koch told council members, “In my opinion, it is a rapidly developing area, and I don’t believe it is in the best interest of the city to divest such a large parcel.”

Gilman said the plan calls for a half-million-dollar investment by a private entity “that would like to develop it without subsidies.”

Council member Mike Boyle said, “This is one area we are looking at as non-saleable ... long-term lease.”

After some discussion about Salamatof considering a smaller parcel within the city of Kenai, or considering a lease rather than an outright purchase of the land, council members Rick Ross and Joe Moore said they would like to see plans for development from the association before deciding the issue.

Carty said she would be able to provide plans for the council.

“We would love to have you stay in Kenai ... where you belong,” said Mayor Porter.

In other business the council set the property tax rate at 4.5 mills. The rate remains unchanged from 2005, but city code requires it be set annually.

The council also amended the city’s firearms ordinance map to bring hunting areas within city limits in sync with permitted state shooting areas within the Kenai River Special Management Area.

At issue were areas along Bridge Access Road where it crosses the Kenai River and a panhandle section of riverbank land east of the Warren Ames Bridge. The city hunting map had indicated shotgun shooting was allowed along the banks of the river, an area where hunting is prohibited by the state.

The new map includes phone numbers for the Kenai Police Department and the Alaska State Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation.

The council also scheduled a Board of Adjustments hearing for 5:30 p.m. July 5 to consider a conditional use permit to operate short-term cabin rentals in the Valhalla Heights Subdivision. The issue received much testimony both for and against before being approved at the May 24 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.

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