Proposed Vista Drive development gets permit

Volunteers of America has received a conditional use permit for a 40-apartment development on Vista Dive in West Juneau.

Volunteers of America have been given the OK to build up to 75 apartments in West Juneau.

The Planning Commission Tuesday night approved a conditional use permit for the two-phase project on Vista Drive.  It includes 40 apartments in the first phase, with site work to begin next spring.

CBJ Community Development Director Hal Hart says Volunteers of America must still raise funds for the second phase of 35 units, scheduled to start in 2015.

While the non-profit organization is one of the largest providers of affordable housing in the U.S., more than a third of the Juneau units will rent at market rates.  Some units will be set aside for people making less than $50,000 a year.

“There are definitely going to be units that are set aside at 50 percent of the area median income, but there are 15 in this first phase of 40 set aside for market rate,” he says. 

Hart says the Volunteers of America development is the first this year to be directed at residents having difficulty finding a house or apartment that is reasonably priced for their income.

“The folks I’m talking about are working but at less than what the median income for Juneau is, so they’re spending more of their income on housing than others are, and it may require a second job for the housing, or two incomes to qualify for housing,”  he says.

Hart calls the VOA project very important for a town short on affordable housing.  So far in 2013, the city has received 132 applications for housing permits.  But most of the proposed condominiums, homes or apartments will be rented or sold at what the market will bear.

Volunteers of America with Alaska Development Partners have been building multi-family housing projects across the state, with most units in Anchorage.  The Juneau project would be adjacent to Crest Condominiums. The plan preserves about 25 percent of large trees as well as existing vegetation along Vista Drive.  Hart says the apartment complex will be managed onsite by VOA.