Newsletter – Issue 1 – January 2022 – Extended online version.
Girdwood, Inc. has been an established non-profit in the Girdwood Valley since 2004. The organization has led many large projects including infrastructure improvements. These have consisted of raising money and the remodeling and oversight of the Round House Museum, raised money for building the Gerrish Library and Community Room, as well as fostering many budding organizations to become their own stand-alone 501c(3)s.
This is the first issue of a Girdwood, Inc. newsletter, where we can update people on matters in the valley. We expect this to be a periodic letter, but this first issue is very important because of the critical land development project proposed for an area north of the school, locally known as Holtan Hills. To give you a sense of magnitude, 150 acres is in play at Holtan Hills. The current footprint of developed Girdwood is roughly 300 acres under private ownership.
Moving briskly, the developers have expressed interest in breaking ground this summer. Girdwood Inc. feels it is important to identify the parties involved, their role, upcoming meetings, and some questions related to a project this large. Disposal of the land is up for approval at the end of January, with Planning and Zoning meetings over the coming months. This means at this point, the proposal is heading upstairs, already moving away from Girdwood’s engagement.
The Heritage Land Bank (HLB) is a division of the Municipality of Anchorage’s Real Estate Department, and operates under the rules set by the Anchorage Municipal Code. The HLB manages municipal land assigned to its inventory, and their operations are to benefit the citizens of Anchorage, promote orderly development, and achieve the goals of the Comprehensive Plan. The Heritage Land Bank controls approximately 5,000 acres in the Girdwood Valley. This land abuts present-day Girdwood in many places and represents most of the developable land available for community needs or expansion.
In April 2021, HLB released a Request for Proposal (RFP) on their municipal webpage. A surprise to most of us, the HLB conveyed this was in response to receiving 2 applications for the land. Complex and broad, the RFP was unlike what most RFP contractors were familiar with seeing. The HLB was offering to sell or contract with a developer, up to 150 acres to be identified from three potential areas. Respondents were to provide their development plan and several other requirements. The general location of the parcels is behind Girdwood School (accessed from the “Water Road” on the right side prior to coming to the school parking lot) and continuing up along Crow Creek Road.
In June, HLB held a “selection panel” and chose “CY Investments” as the winning respondent. The team is composed of Connie Yoshimura, Seth Anderson and Pomeroy Lodging. According to the RFP proposal, upon a lot being sold in the Planned Unit Subdivision, 50% of the proceeds go to the CY Investments partnership (Yoshimura/Anderson) and the other 50% of the proceeds are directed to the Heritage Land Bank Fund.
Pomeroy is proposing to purchase 27 acres directly from HLB. This land would be located on the east side of Glacier Creek. Pomeroy will later submit a separate ski village plan; they are not involved with the Holtan Hills development.
As proposed today, the Holtan Hills Project is set to occur in 3 phases. Phase I includes about 45 lots of varying sizes and shapes, mostly single-family with a few multifamily building sites. Phase II is proposed to be 46-50 lots and has a connection road access to Crow Creek Road. Phase III has roughly 40 larger lots ranging in size from ½ to 1 acre in size.
There are many questions swirling around this proposal. For example, to our knowledge the required “Developer Agreement” has not been finalized. Little is known about the project’s impact on local power, sewage, water and traffic. Who pays for roads & utilities is not clear. This is going to be a higher density development than has previously been done here. The development is taking about 6.5 acres of Girdwood Institutions and Parks (GIP) land adjacent to the school, but there hasn’t been any formal analysis of future school populations or land needs. The HLB indicated they are participating in the development, but their role as a public body is not entirely clear. Despite the big need for workforce housing, the HLB has said they are unable to limit short-term rentals despite such covenants being part of many existing projects and subdivisions. The developers have indicated they intend to give locals two weeks advance purchase opportunities, but no detail was provided. Given the community does not have legal expertise, it seems the HLB needs to put on their community support hat and provide real analysis of important issues. This entire 150-acre proposal came out as a surprise, with no prior general community knowledge or input. Now that project details are beginning to come forward, the community is in a position to raise issues.
We encourage you to participate in the upcoming meetings about this project. For instance, disposal of the 3 parcels is on the agenda at the next HLB meeting on January 27, 2022 at 11:30 AM. The meeting will be held virtually on Microsoft Teams. “The HLBAC encourages anyone wishing to provide public testimony via telephone to email to WWWHLB@muni.org by 9:00 am the day of the meeting. Please provide your Name, Phone Number, and Agenda Item Number/Title for which you wish to provide testimony. The Subject Line should read “Phone Testimony.” Reference “Item Case 2021-16 Public Hearing (HLB Parcels 6-011, 6-016 & 6-017 Disposal).” – More details and update below.
We will also try to keep contact and time information for future Holtan Hills meetings here on our website. Girdwood Inc. realizes there are many land needs in Girdwood, and is not opposed to projects that can meet those needs. With no local newspaper, this critical project has not been widely publicized in Girdwood. We don’t encourage unnecessary delays, but we should take the time for the developers to listen and address many remaining questions about the project.
Girdwood, Inc. looks forward to continuing to update the community regarding the status of this project and other relevant community engagement opportunities. Until next time!
Board of Directors
Since publication of the newsletter, the disposal of the property was pushed back from this months agenda, and is set to be on the February HLB Meeting. There is an update regarding Holtan Hills on the January agenda. Following agenda items, will be Public Comment period. If you wish to speak, send an email to WWWHLB@muni.org with request to speak during Public Comment period before 9:00 AM on January 27. Agenda posted below.
Meeting: January 27, 2022 @ 11:30 AM Heritage Land Bank Advisory Commission
Call in (audio only) +1 907-519-0237 PIN: 772316416#
To join on Microsoft Teams, scan the QR code below to be directed into the meeting or click the link below.
Join on your computer or mobile app:
HLB Meeting Agenda:
The Public Hearing for disposal will not occur before May 2022, per notice on HLB website.
“*****HOLTAN HILLS DISPOSAL WILL NOT BE ON THE AGENDA UNTIL AT LEAST MAY 2022 DUE TO OVERALL PROJECT PROCESS SLOWDOWN FOR SUMMER 2023 START INSTEAD OF SUMMER 2022 (as of 1/30/2022)“Source: https://www.muni.org/Departments/hlb/Pages/HLBCommission.aspx
Draft 2022 Annual Work Program ***There will be edits to this draft made in ‘track changes’ through January 12th. For that reason, the Public Hearing will now be in March***
Draft Map – Appendices to be posted soon, as well as clearer version of chapter 4.
The 2021 HLB Annual Work Program and 2022-2026 Five-Year Management Plan was approved by the Assembly on February 23, 2021 (AR 2021-25).