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Navigation Center discussions continue

The Municipality of Anchorage is seeking community input as it looks to move forward with a homeless shelter and navigation center.
Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 10:00 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Municipality of Anchorage is seeking community input as it looks to move forward with a homeless shelter and navigation center for some of the city’s most at-risk residents.

The navigation center is just one project as part of a plan to eliminate the emergency mass care operations at Sullivan Arena. As a key part of that strategy, Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration is pushing ahead with a plan to build a 150-person homeless shelter and navigation center in East Anchorage. The original plan called for 200 beds, but residents became concerned that a larger shelter would come with more loitering. The municipality however, is adamant that the navigation center will be more than just a shelter. Anchorage Health Department Director Joe Gerace said that the center is committed to a “functional zero” within two years.

“The navigation center serves as that conduit to those social services, not just for housing,” Gerace said.

On June 22, a second community meeting was was hosted with members of the design team so that residents could ask about conditional use permit requests they may have. The site proposed will be a 30,000 square foot facility on the intersection of Tudor Road and Elmore Road, adjacent to the police department. Many community members who spoke out during the meeting expressed concerns about what a transient shelter may bring to their neighborhood.

Despite concerns, the board was clear as to why they chose the location they did. To retrofit a new building instead of building a new one can often be more expensive when it comes to code requirements for zoning homeless and transient shelters. Executive Director of Community and Economic Development Adam Trombley explained why the location was chosen.

“In the location that was identified we identified at least five to six million dollars in savings because it already had basically a pad to build on — there’s going to be some modification — there was water and sewer located near there, there’s power located near there,” Trombley said.

Conditional use permits end at planning and zoning so the municipality will continue to address issues such as connectivity and traffic. The planning and zoning commission hearing will be held Aug. 8.

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