Gastineau Apartments owner settles city lawsuit for $1.5 million

Gastineau Apartments, pictured July 13, 2015, had unboarded, broken windows. The structured was demolished at city expense the following year. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

The owners of the former Gastineau Apartments will pay $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the City and Borough of Juneau.

The city took the owners to court to recover demolition costs after razing the blighted buildings at 127 South Franklin Street.

“The real benefit of this has been our work with the city at every turn has yielded progress for the city of Juneau,” said David D’Amato, who acts as a representative of owner Kathleen Barrett. “We’ve managed incrementally to clean up a substantial portion of downtown Juneau with the view of both resolving sort of these issues with the buildings and with the property but also issues with the community.” 

A fire severely damaged them in 2012, and again in 2015.

The property was deemed a public nuisance and torn down in January 2016. The city filed the lawsuit against the Barretts in March 2016 to recover costs.

City Manager Rorie Watt said in a news release that the city is glad to put this issue behind it.

“It’s been difficult,” Watt said Thursday. “I mean, it was a hard to take local funds and demolish a piece of problem, private property. It’s not something that we want to do very often. I’m glad the litigation is over and everybody can move on and worry about other things.”

Court documents show that Barrett admitted fault and will make scheduled payments through Dec. 31, 2020.

Any proceeds from the sale of her other Juneau properties — including the former Bergmann Hotel — would be held in trust until the payments are complete.

The court settlement also addressed a downtown house that’s been the center of neighborhood complaints. Ms. Barrett jointly owns a Harris Street house with her son James and pledged to continue efforts to evict him from the property and forfeit his interest.

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