$10M in cruise passenger taxes to boost Capital Civic Center project

Capital Civic Center concept rendering
Local architectural firms produced this conceptual rendering of a Capital Civic Center for the City and Borough of Juneau. The idea is to expand Centennial Hall and replace the Juneau Arts and Culture Center.

Juneau cruise ship passengers will foot a big chunk of the bill for a new, integrated convention center and performing arts venue.

City officials and the cruise industry have drafted an agreement that would allow up to $10 million in cruise ship passenger taxes to help pay for what’s being called the Capital Civic Center. The Juneau Assembly approved the resolution authorizing the arrangement at its regular meeting Monday night.

Bob Banghart is the executive director of what’s called “The Partnership,” a local nonprofit that originally began to raise funds for a standalone replacement for the aging Juneau Arts and Culture Center.

Juneau voters shot down a grant request for that proposed facility, called the New JACC, in 2019. The Capital Civic Center concept has support from groups that weren’t supportive of the New JACC. It’s got a ballpark cost of $75 million and The Partnership doesn’t intend to ask the City and Borough of Juneau to pay for any more of that.

Capital Civic Center conceptual floor plans neighborhood
Local architectural firms produced this conceptual floor plan for a Capital Civic Center for the City and Borough of Juneau. The idea is to expand Centennial Hall and replace the Juneau Arts and Culture Center.

“If it all comes to pass, and this process that we’ve been pursuing, there wouldn’t be any subsequent contribution from CBJ,” Banghart said. “They’ve already done what they’ve said they’re going to do.”

That is, the city is working on voter-approved renovations to Centennial Hall. Those improvements are compatible with the Capital Civic Center concept.

“What we’re doing as a nonprofit, is bringing a complement to that effort and the money, from a number of sources that aren’t necessarily the city,” Banghart said.

Banghart said philanthropic donors will help pay for it. And, because it would be wholly owned by the city, there’s potential for federal funding. He said he thinks they’re in good position to start and finish the project in the next three to four years.

Banghart said the cruise industry’s become supportive because it needs indoor space. Small cruise lines and tour operators could use rooms there as a beginning and end point for their activities.

Banghart said a miniature, Pike Place-style market of local vendors there would be an attraction for visitors. And, Banghart said the pandemic has shown it’s a valuable space for large-scale emergencies.

This story was updated after the resolution was approved.

Jeremy Hsieh

Local News Reporter, KTOO

I dig into questions about the forces and institutions that shape Juneau, big and small, delightful and outrageous. What stirs you up about how Juneau is built and how the city works?

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