Issue XIV – What Girdwoodians Need to Know

Welcome to issue XIV of the Girdwood Inc Newsletter! Read on to learn more about the following topics: Alyeska Resort Development, Short Term Rental Regulation, Project Anchorage, Girdwood Area Plan public hearing, Girdwood Community Land Trust’s Request for Information on South Townsite, potential RV Park parcel and newest funding secured for Girdwood Inc/Little Bears Playhouse joint project.

Alyeska Resort Development:

In April, Alyeska Resort formally submitted their development plans to the Anchorage Planning Department.

In May, a Resolution of Support for modification to the Alyeska Resort Master Plan and Development plan was discussed and presented at Girdwood Land Use and Girdwood Board of Supervisors.

At the May Land Use Meeting, a motion to support the project via GBOS resolution was made and seconded. It was then amended to remove support for the Glacier Creek subdivision portion of the development plan. An opportunity to vote on the full project as proposed was not discussed or voted upon.

The following week, GBOS voted to approve the Resolution of Support, but removed the exception of Glacier Creek. This passed in a 3-2 vote. Within 24 hours, a special meeting was called to reconsider the vote. At this vote, the decision was made to keep the exception of Glacier Creek and be consistent with the vote that occurred at Land Use. The resolution was forwarded to the Planning and Zoning Commissioners in their packet.

On June 3rd the proposed Amendment to the Alyeska Resort Master Plan and Commercial Frag lot plan was approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission. During the hearing, it was discussed numerous times that the Glacier Creek subdivision is consistent with the current area plan, but not the newest map submitted to Planning for the Girdwood Area Plan. The area north of the airport has switched from Mixed Use to Open Space on the draft map between February and now. When speaking regarding both housing and recreation, Commissioner Krishna stated, “this seems to be a place where two of Girdwood’s top priorities are in conflict.” This area is proposed for Phase 4 and was given a 2031 timeline by the resort. Development for future phases will require additional future approvals. At this hearing, there was no testimony heard in opposition to any portion of Phase I. Phase I includes the childcare and learning center, recreation center, employee housing, condo building, hotel extension, additional parking and new ski school.

In June, Alyeska Resort and YMCA announced that the two entities have signed a letter of intent for the Recreation facility.

Short Term Rental Regulation:

Municipal-wide Short Term Rental regulation, via AO 2023-110, was passed by Assembly but vetoed by the Mayor. Randy Sulte, in his report to GBOS, mentioned that the Assembly lacks the votes needed to override the veto. Sulte also noted that there might be support within the Assembly for Girdwood-specific regulations.

Girdwood-specific regulations are now being discussed at Girdwood Housing and Economic Committee, Girdwood Land Use and Girdwood Board of Supervisors over the coming months.

Project Anchorage:

Taking inspiration from Oklahoma City, the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation  (ADEC) is spearheading an effort to implement a new sales tax package, which also includes a reduction in property taxes. Jenna Wright from ADEC presented the item.

“Project Anchorage is an initiative put forward by a coalition of Anchorage businesses and business leaders to make Anchorage a better place to live, work and play. The initiative would implement a 3% sales tax to be dedicated as follows:

  • Two thirds of the revenue would go dollar for dollar to lower property taxes, increasing housing affordability and making Anchorage a more attractive place to live and do business.
  • One third of the revenue would fund projects that make Anchorage a better place to live, work and play.”

Wright indicated that a variety of projects from across the municipality, including Girdwood, will be selected in a package put forward to the assembly. The public is encouraged to submit their project ideas to their website: by September 15, 2024.

Girdwood Area Plan:

The public hearing for the Girdwood Area Plan is scheduled for July 15th 2024 at the Anchorage Loussac Library Assembly Chambers at 6:30 PM.

This is the public’s opportunity to comment or recommend changes to the plan before final approval.

7/14/2024 UPDATE from Imagine Girdwood:

“The Planning Department has proposed that PZC recommend 10 substantive changes to the Comprehensive Plan, including:

  • Remove requirements for Vegetative Buffers
  • Remove areas identified for Future Parks
  • Change land use for area north of airport to Mixed Use rather than Open Space
  • Extend area of Mixed Use in South Townsite “Squirrel Cages” rather than Open Space
  • Change land use for area west of Alyeska Basin to Low-Density Residential
  • Change Upper Valley from Commercial Recreation Reserve to Commercial Recreation
  • Clarify alternatives to road paving
  • Emphasize the Tsunami Risk to Old Girdwood

You can review the full comments from Planning along with comments from other agencies including HLB under Latest News at the website” or at the municipal agenda link here.

Maps Submitted to Planning:

Girdwood Community Land Trust – Request for Information – South Townsite:

If you have taken a walk through Forest Fair park area recently, you may have noticed the flooding occurring again around the pavilion area and beer garden stage. Girdwood Community Land Trust has been holding site visits for interested parties to view the neighboring parcel, to gain insight into how the meandering creek might affect the adjacent lower elevation parcel for future use. To share your thoughts regarding this area, please email Responses for the RFI are due by  August 15th 2024.

RV Park – HLB Parcel 6-134:

This is the parcel under consideration and discussion at Girdwood Housing and Economic Committee for a permanent RV park. In the Heritage Land Bank Annual Work Plan it states the next steps for this item would be, an approval of the new updated area plan and “Girdwood South Townsite Master Plan – potential update after the GAP (Girdwood Area Plan) is complete.” Efforts will then commence to request a withdrawal from HLB to transfer the parcel to Girdwood Parks and Recreation. This would enable Girdwood Valley Service Area to initiate an RV park feasibility study as the next step.

Funding from State Budget:

Senator Cathy Giessel’s long-standing support for Girdwood continued this legislative session. Senator Giessel’s successful support for $500K in state funding for the much-needed Little Bears / Girdwood Workforce Childcare Project is just the latest she has helped secure funding for. The Senator’s support in previous years was key in funding for the Girdwood Clinic, upgrades to the Alyeska Highway path and other trails in the Valley, spearheading the funding to get the Anchorage Police Department patrol area to include the Seward Highway, among others.

Issue XIII – Girdwood Development 2024

Welcome to Issue XIII of Girdwood Inc’s Newsletter! Significant undertakings are underway in Girdwood. We trust you’ll find value in staying informed about the latest happenings in our neck of the woods. Dive into this issue for updates on ongoing projects, the status of the area plan draft, and an “Everyone For Girdwood” update!

Holtan Hills:

On January 23, 2024, the Anchorage Assembly voted 9-2 in favor of the disposal of Heritage Land Bank parcels known as “Holtan Hills” to CY Investments.

When the initial action was before assembly in 2022, it was presented with very few restrictions and concessions within the ordinance. This prompted a large showing of Girdwood residents to testify before assembly during a massive snowstorm event in December of 2022. The agenda item needed to be extended to another special meeting, in order to hear the hours and hours of testimony.

New substitute versions of the ordinance were drafted (S-versions), with new restrictions and requirements, which appear to have been inspired by the testimony. On January 23, 2024 the assembly included several new amendments working off of the S-2 version, which was reintroduced in December of 2023. One example would be an amendment to prohibit short term rentals on multi-family lots in Phase I, in addition to single family lots. Meg Zaletel had included “At least one multi-family lot for the development of at least 8 units to be drawn from HLB’s portion of profits will be designated for future disposal to a Girdwood housing trust or non-profit entity for the purposes of developing community housing for residents,” in the S-2 ordinance. Another amendment passed January 23, 2024 included increasing the lots available for community housing to two lots, one multifamily and one single family lot, shall now be reserved for community purposes within the development.

The project will now proceed through the planning process, including seeking a conditional use for the planned unit development.

Alyeska Resort Development:

Alyeska Resort presented at a joint Girdwood Board of Supervisors and Land Use Committee meeting on February 7th regarding their development and expansion plans.

“Overview: Pomeroy plans to amend the existing Alyeska Master Plan. Current plan was created by prior owner in 2008. Project has been shaped by public input substantially and makes effort to maintain existing trail connectivity, existing trails and limited impact on wetlands. Amendment is allowed because changes fall within allowable percent of change from prior plan. Pomeroy Lodging is working toward HLB disposal that would provide them land for the Glacier Creek development.

Area Master Plan Amendment:
Presentation of the plans that will be used as amendment to the current Alyeska Resort Master Plan. Plan is to build three developments with horizontal gondola to connect.
Alyeska Village: Base of tram area. This area is mainly visitor focused, includes hotel extension, new conference facility, condos, ski school facility. Steep slope allows for ground floor on 2 levels, interconnected walkways. Underground parking.
Moose Meadows: Undeveloped area by the church and back storage area behind existing parking. Development is mainly community related. Facilities planned here are Little Bears, recreation building including pool and skating rink, multiple projects for workforce housing including dorm style, 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom, and townhomes, grocery and other retail on 1st floor.
Glacier Creek: After completion of the first two developments this project would begin, estimate 10 years from approval. This development will include single family homes, no Short Term Rentals (STRs).” Source: GBOS Minutes

Willam Laurie, Development Manager for Pomeroy Resort stated “All residential in the Moose Meadow area will be workforce housing rentals with no option for Short Term Rentals. Glacier Creek development area will also include a small homes aspect with priority purchasing opportunity for Girdwood locals looking for primary residence.”

“Glacier Creek is a planned single-family, trails-oriented community within the overall Development. Pomeroy is committed to delivering several homes focusing on efficiency and affordability, while offering priority access to locals seeking to purchase a primary residence in the Valley. Pomeroy is actively researching various models employed by municipalities elsewhere, seeking to implement similar approaches in Girdwood such as a lottery system,” Laurie stated.

The location of the Glacier Creek development is throughout the proposed Forest Loop on the Girdwood Area Trail Plan. As of now, the Girdwood Area Plan draft shows the area as “Mixed Use.” The public comments received for the Area Plan will likely dictate the future direction for the area.

Pomeroy has invested approximately $50 million into Alyeska since acquisition. These investments include: 71-Unit Staff Housing Building, Mountain Recreational Vehicles, New Snow Cats, Sky Bridge, Nordic Spa, Completed remodeling of floors 6-8, Continued remodel of remaining floors and lobby spaces, Forte Restaurant Remodel, Aurora Bar and Grill Remodel, Remodel of Gym in Pool area with new equipment.

The projected total for the development and expansion plans are expected to be $350 million+.

Girdwood Area Plan Draft Published:

Imagine! Girdwood published the Girdwood Area Plan draft and map. The Area Plan is the overarching plan that guides future development of the community and a very important document for shaping the valley. We encourage all residents and owners to review the draft. Public Comment on the draft is open until March 31st, 2024.

Images Source: Imagine! Girdwood. View the entire draft plan by visiting

Everyone For Girdwood: An Update

A sincere thank you for attending our fundraiser event and supporting the Girdwood Workforce Childcare Project! We are excited to report that over $80,000 has been raised from local individuals and businesses!

The Girdwood Workforce Childcare Project is a joint effort of Girdwood Inc and Little Bears Playhouse, Inc. Our goal is to build a new and safe childcare facility in Girdwood. You can help this effort in a number of ways! Join our Gratitude Tree that will be located in the new facility with a donation of $100+. Your name will be added as a permanent part of our building.

Girdwood faces both a childcare and housing crisis, which has put immense pressure on the local workforce, businesses, families, and the economy. These challenges extend beyond our community, impacting the available workforce and our ability to provide services to visitors who come to Girdwood for recreation. The splendor of our community relies on the people who live and work here. If they cannot thrive, neither can Girdwood. That is why we are urging EVERYONE to unite FOR GIRDWOOD! By addressing our childcare crisis, we are fostering prosperity for all in Girdwood.

Click here to Donate on our Go Fund Me Page!

Learn About Our Gratitude Tree Sponsorship Levels:

  1. Little Bears Believer – Leaf – $100 – $499
  2. Cub Contributor – Twig – $500 – $999
  3. Black Bear Booster – Branch – $1000 – $4,999
  4. Brown Bear Benefactor – Bough – $5,000 – $9,999
  5. Grizzly Bear Grantor – Limb – $10,000 – $24,999
  6. Polar Bear Patron – Trunk – $25,000 – $99,999
  7. Bear Den Builder – Base of Tree – $100,000 – $349,999 (Classroom or Multipurpose Room Dedication opportunity + Gratitude Tree)
  8. Ursa Major Angel “The Great Bear” – Roots – $350,000+

We greatly appreciate any amount. Every dollar counts.

Donate by Check:

Checks made payable to:  Girdwood Inc – EIN: 77-0631498 – Check Memo: Childcare Project

Correspondence/Letter Reference:  Donation to the Girdwood Workforce Childcare Project / Everyone for Girdwood

Address to: Girdwood Inc PO Box 1102 Girdwood, AK 99587

Until next time!

Girdwood Inc

Girdwood Into 2024 – Issue XII

Welcome to a new year and Issue XII of Girdwood Inc’s newsletter!

Community Champion: Jennifer McCombs

We are excited to announce the new Executive Director for Girdwood Inc’s Roundhouse at Alyeska, Jennifer McCombs! Jennifer received her Bachelor of Business Administration from Northeastern State University and a Master of Business Administration from University of Alaska Anchorage.

Jennifer landed in Girdwood in 2007 and has called it home ever since. She has extensive experience in hospitality, logistics, merchandising, sales, and events. Jennifer is a certified yoga teacher and an entrepreneurial artist, owning and operating Active Mountain LLC. You can find her teaching local yoga classes through her business or teaching paint nights through Four Valleys Community School. Jennifer has served on the board of the Girdwood Health Clinic since 2019 and is currently the board President.

Jennifer and her husband share two boys, who both attend Girdwood School. She is an experienced skier and outdoor enthusiast. We are excited with the energy Jennifer is bringing to her new position and are thrilled to have her on the Girdwood Inc Team!

Everyone For Girdwood! An invitation:

We are thrilled to invite you to a special event that promises fun, food, and a fantastic cause. Please mark your calendars for January 25th, 2024, as we gather at the Challenge Alaska Building for an indoor/outdoor extravaganza!

Event Details:

  • Date: January 25th, 2024
  • Time: 5-9 PM
  • Location: Challenge Alaska Building, 366 Crystal Mountain Road, Girdwood, AK

All funds raised will support the Girdwood Workforce Childcare Project, a collaborative effort between Girdwood Inc and Little Bears Playhouse. The mission of this project is to build a new childcare facility for our community, which Little Bears Playhouse will own and operate. Come to learn about our new building and view the latest developments and design. By supporting this cause, you are contributing to the well-being and future of our community’s families and workforce!

What to Expect:

  • Delicious Food
  • Fun Music
  • Refreshing Drinks
  • Cozy Fire Pits

We have planned an exciting evening for everyone to enjoy, with indoor and outdoor activities to suit all preferences and weather. Let’s come together, celebrate, and make a meaningful impact on our community.

Your presence and support are highly valued, so please purchase your tickets now! We are limited to the capacity of the building for pre-selling tickets, make sure you get yours today! View ticket options at:

  • Adult Ticket: $20
  • Child Ticket: $10

We can’t wait to see Everyone For Girdwood on January 25th, 2024, for an unforgettable evening of community, celebration, and generosity.

If you are unable to attend, there are a number of ways you can contribute to this effort:

To learn more about progress of the project, we encourage you to visit

Holtan Hills, Back on Assembly Agenda:

Three Anchorage Assembly Members laid the HLB disposal, commonly known as Holtan Hills, on the table at the December 19th, 2023, assembly meeting. The sponsor, Meg Zaletel, moved the item with Daniel Volland making a second, and Kevin Cross, as the third. The South Anchorage assembly members, who represent Girdwood, Randy Sulte and Zac Johnson, were given notice minutes before the meeting began, about the laid on the table item. Girdwood Board of Supervisors were also not made aware of the item being laid on the table.

The initial public hearing was scheduled for January 9th. A Clerks note was added to the municipal website noting “It is the intent of the sponsor to continue this item to the meeting of January 23rd.”

Several Girdwood residents came to testify at the January 9th hearing. You can view the agenda item and their testimony by clicking “play” below. As published in advance, the sponsor motioned to continue the public hearing on January 23rd at the regular assembly meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 5:00 PM.

To view the most recent Assembly Ordinance, AO 2023-137 regarding the disposal click here.

To view the associated Assembly Memorandum click here.

Girdwood Board of Supervisors has added the item on their January 22nd meeting agenda. This will be held at the Girdwood Community Room and on Microsoft Teams at 7:00 PM.

Heritage Land Bank Plan Documents Published

HLB has released their draft 2024 Annual Work Program and 2025-2029 5-Year Management Plan. It is open for public comments until 2/9/2024. The tentative public hearing is scheduled for 2/22/2024.

Girdwood Area Plan Draft Map

The newest version of the Girdwood Area Plan Draft Map is set to be presented January 10, 2024 at the Imagine Girdwood special meeting. Information for upcoming meetings below:

Wednesday January 10, 2024 6p-8p Special Meeting

Zoom link:

Meeting ID: 828 8313 7639 

Passcode: 541016

Wednesday January 24, 2024 6p-8p Regular Meeting

Zoom link:

Meeting ID: 828 5495 4209 

Passcode: 901428

Until next time!

Girdwood Plans for the Future – Issue XI

Welcome to issue eleven of Girdwood Inc.’s newsletter. Planning in Girdwood is really ramping up and the output of the planning is being shared with the community. This newsletter hopes to summarize the events which have occurred and direct you to resources for more information.

Alyeska Open House

Alyeska Resort held an open house the evening of September 21st. At the Sitzmark, the room filled up with attendees interested to hear about the new development plan being unveiled. Ryan Pomeroy spoke of their future vision for the resort and invited members of their development team to speak. He introduced Chris Cushing of SE Group, who specializes in Mountain Planning. He turned over time to Jeff Korvel of Skylab Architecture, who showed many examples of his work in mountain communities. He then directed attendees to move around and visit the various stations with large posters and presenters. The vision boards included: Alyeska Development, Workforce Housing Community, Recreation Center and Daycare, Glacier Creek Community, Mountain Improvements and Sustainability.

The Alyeska Development station displayed an overview of the entire area showing concept buildings rendered and proposed new parking. The development plan contained 3 distinct areas:

“Alyeska Village” is located near the Nordic Spa on Tract A. This area includes a plaza with public event space, commercial units available to tenants, saleable condominiums, new ski school, a conference center and additional parking. All buildings are sited to be on currently owned Alyeska land, with parking extending onto State land.

“Moose Meadow Community” would be located on Tract B, near Our Lady of the Snows Chapel and the new employee housing building. The area is slated to be workforce housing, park space, mixed use commercial and residential, with an area defined for a Recreation Center, covered hockey rink and the new childcare facility, which will be owned and operated by Little Bears Playhouse. The architect described the design aesthetic for the area as “Frontier Modern.” The childcare facility is furthest along in design and development. Phase I will include components of the above areas.

“Glacier Creek Community” is in an area off the existing resort property on public land and currently managed by Heritage Land Bank. This area is proposed to be residential housing, smaller commercial uses, and a warming hut for winter activities. This area is furthest out for development.

See additional information below.

Imagine! Girdwood Open House

Imagine! Girdwood is the committee spearheading the new Girdwood Area Plan. The current area plan was completed in 1995 and has long needed an update. Huddle AK is the contractor in place to research relevant information, compile public comment and write the draft plan. Two “draft maps” were introduced the evening of October 11 as Scenario A and Scenario B. It has been reiterated that we are not expected to choose one map or the other, but rather comment on things we like or don’t like depicted on the maps. This map is expected to identify areas which the community is in favor of for new development, as well as areas to be preserved as park space, etc.

Comments should be emailed to The due date for comments has been extended to November 5th 2023. View the full presentation clicking here. The next Imagine! Girdwood meetings are scheduled for November 29th and December 20, 2023 at 6 PM. Links to these meetings should be posted at

Holly Spoth-Torres presents to the audience October 11, 2023

Girdwood’s Efforts:

While some believe that Girdwood is resistant to new development, we view the following as examples that Girdwood is demonstrating to be forward-thinking when it comes to new development and housing in Girdwood:

1) Girdwood Comprehensive Plan. As mentioned above, this plan is being written now. The draft is projected to be completed by February 2024.

2) Girdwood Housing and Economic Committee was created after the April 2023 vote, which established this additional service area power under Girdwood Board of Supervisors. Issues being discussed in the Committee, as well as Land Use and GBOS meetings include:

Lowering Costs – Being able to source gravel from Glacier Creek to lower construction costs, instead of importing gravel from Portage, Anchorage or Mat-Su. After moving through Land Use and GBOS, the committee voted to request a scope of work and pursue a feasibility study. There may be additional benefits to mitigate flooding risk. The Girdwood Service Area Manager noted the need for gravel being an essential resource, for local roads maintenance and operations. Extracted material is proposed for use in local Girdwood projects and community needs.

Create RV Parking Location – Using Heritage Land Bank parcel 6-134 for an RV and community river beach park. This parcel is located behind the Library and Fire Station. The vast majority of this parcel is within a floodplain. This could create a Parks and Recreation revenue source, with caretakers on site. Creating a legal and sanitary location which is intended for camping could help alleviate the park-and-ride area currently being utilized. Advocates suggest building a permanent bathroom facility on this parcel prior to any other development.

Assembly Efforts:

Assembly’s new “Anchorage Goes” bond proposal may be helpful with funding a public restroom on the parcel mentioned above. The municipal-wide bond is expected to increase taxes by $2.54 for each $100,000 of assessed taxable property value and will result in up to 30 public restrooms. The public hearing is scheduled for the Regular Assemble Meeting on November 7, 2023. If approved by assembly, the bond proposition will be presented to qualified, registered voters during the Regular Municipal Election in April 2024.

Assembly members Randy Sulte & Meg Zaletel introduced an ordinance to create a new chapter of municipal code in Title 10. It pertains to licensing and regulation of short term rentals operations. Scan the QR code to view the proposed legislation. The public hearing is scheduled for the Regular Assemble Meeting on December 5, 2023.

Additional Info provided by Alyeska Development Team:

Alyeska Village Area

Focus Areas:

  • Connect Resort & Village to Community
  • Bring Saleable Condos to the Village
  • Bring Public Amenities to the Space – this may include potential new grocery store / hardware store but can also be in Workforce Housing Area.
  • Provide New Commercial Opportunities – new commercial space open for public leasing opportunities.
  • Build New Conference Center – focusing on bringing more events to Girdwood.
  • Construct Additional Parking Areas – major focus point of the development, building for future needs.
  • Promote Walkable Village Setting
  • Create New Public Event Space
  • Build an Engaging Skier Village

Workforce Housing Community

Focus Area:

  • Create Sense of Community
  • Bring Workforce Housing to Girdwood – Not only for resort workers but for other businesses in Girdwood.
  • Provide Diverse Rental Housing – studio to townhomes. Trying to promote not only individuals living here but if someone wanted to move in with a family, they could.
  • Create Work-live space for Small Business
  • Provide New Park Space
  • Build New Local Commercial Space – more commercial space available.
  • Construct Recreational Facility
  • Ensure Resilience of Future Housing Need
  • Partner with On-Site Daycare

Recreation Center & Daycare

Focus Areas:

  • Build New Recreation Center – fitness center and pool which would operate similar to other rec facilities in anchorage (open to public).
  • Provide Space for Little Bears Daycare
  • Construct Open Air Ice Rink
  • Include Aquatic Center
  • Build Extensive Fitness Center
  • New Community Rooms Space
  • Additional Playground Area
  • Promote Easy Access to Girdwood Town
  • Build Sense of Community

Glacier Creek Community

Focus Areas:

  • Residential Housing Community
  • New Diverse Housing Stock

We sincerely hope you appreciate our newsletters! Until next time!

Girdwood Inc Newsletter Issue X – Development Projects in Girdwood & more

Welcome to issue ten of Girdwood Inc’s newsletter. In this newsletter, we will cover a variety of projects, new and ongoing. Children are back to school; fall is around the corner and there is much to highlight in the community!

Community Champion: Nico Reijns

Nico Reijns is the Pastor of Girdwood Chapel United Methodist Church. Turnagain Community Services (TCS) is a new sponsored organization of the Girdwood Chapel. Through this organization, they have helped individuals and families with food and housing assistance. Nico Reijns, the pastor at Girdwood Chapel, provided touching examples serving community members in emergency assistance situations. This includes rental assistance, utility bill support, fuel, ways to stay employed, etc. This new organization has incorporated as a non-profit and will foster the efforts of the Girdwood Food Pantry, the Chapel’s Community Garden and provide mutual aid support. Examples of mutual aid include rides to Anchorage for medical appointments, shoveling snow for elders and cooked meals. Heading the Turnagain Community Services organization is Alice Simmons, Betty Charnon and Terry Sherwood.

He said efforts for rental assistance, about $25,000 in the last 18 months, was not from governmental funding but due to philanthropy from the Girdwood community. Helping those in need was made possible by “neighbors wanting to help neighbors.”

“If we are housing insecure, that also means you are food insecure. If we are food insecure, that also means you are housing insecure. They are all connected.” Reijns provided examples of paying for monthly groceries, so an individual was able to cover their rent. “So sometimes, when we can do food assistance, then they can also stay housed.”

When Pastor Reijns came to Girdwood in 2019, the Girdwood Food Pantry served roughly 35 people one time per month and held a community meal. “Of course, COVID hit and as part of that was the huge growth in not only the number we serve, but the geography we serve.” During COVID, the food pantry served individuals from South Anchorage to Hope and Whittier and were in the several hundred visits-per-month range. Today, the food pantry is seeing an average of 180 guest-visits per month. The Girdwood Food Pantry is operated 3 times per month, on the first Sunday of the month and the second and fourth Wednesdays at the Girdwood Chapel.

The community garden at Girdwood Chapel has individual plots and recently built a new green house, made possible by a grant from Kenai Mountain-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area. Reijns gave a nod of thanks to community member Kevin McDermott for in-kind donated time and labor to complete the structure. The Girdwood Chapel is in the very early stages of looking into doing an updated site master plan for their 2.5 acre lot. In this analysis, they hope to determine the best use of the land given some environmental constraints, as well as proximity to existing and future development. We look forward to seeing what this new organization can do, with Nico Reijns at the helm of Girdwood Chapel. If you are interested in donating toward any of these causes, please visit

Development in Girdwood:

If one drives around Girdwood today, you may notice many examples of projects in different stages of development. One sees homes under various stages of construction, dirt work and even projects coming to a close.

Holtan Hills:

On August 3, 2023, at the Community and Economic Development Committee, Assemblymember Randy Sulte asked of Heritage Land Bank staff, “I’m just curious how to get a little bit more of an updated status of Holton Hills, that we had postponed indefinitely, but I understand it’s coming back, or it might come back before the assembly, just want a little more on that one.” Emma Giboney from HLB provided a background and concluded with, “We don’t have any significant updates about the Holtan Hills portion of that project at this time.” She added, “We have been in preliminary conversations with Pomeroy Lodging. We’re working to identify site constraints, development needs and concept designs that maximize the need for commercial success of the resort, while ensuring the workforce and residential housing needs are met.”

The following day on August 4, 2023, the Assembly held a Work Session re: Heritage Land Bank Annual Workplan, several items pertaining to Girdwood were discussed. Community member Ron Tenny has served on the commission for 6 years and his term is coming to an end. HLB staff stated, “In October, we will have a vacant seat and we will need a new Girdwood representative.” Girdwood is guaranteed 1 seat on the 7-member Heritage Land Bank Advisory Commission.

On August 8, 2023 at the regular assembly meeting, the Anchorage Assembly passed and approved the Heritage Land Bank 2023 Annual Work Program and 2024-2028 five-year Management Plan. The plan had been up for public comment for 45 days and passed at the Heritage Land Bank Advisory Commission (HLBAC). Regarding Holtan Hills, the publicly noticed plan stated: “The Assembly postponed the Holtan Hills disposal indefinitely at the regular Assembly meeting on February 7, 2023.” An amendment was brought forward on the floor by Meg Zaletel to amend the language on the plan to include under “2023 Potential Projects.” The new paragraph was inserted and reads as follows: “Portions of HLB Parcel 6-011, 6-016, 6-017 – Approve of the disposal of portions of these parcels by public-private partnership development agreement with CY Investments, LLC, and land subordination in support of mixed density residential development in Girdwood.” The amendment to include the Holtan Hills disposal in the 2023 work program passed 11-0.

Anchorage Economic Development Corporation (AEDC):

AEDC is one of the Municipality’s active civic organizations. In response to workforce shortages throughout all of Anchorage, AEDC initiated a long-term “Choose Anchorage” effort to make the city more attractive to its workers. They are looking at Business Vitality, Talent, Quality of Place, and Infrastructure. Lack of housing is a focus. Girdwood Inc was asked to fill one of eleven Leadership Committee seats, a position assigned to Board Member John Rense. This initiative may help the city better recognize and address issues that we recognized here in Girdwood. We also consider Girdwood an important “Quality of Place” asset for the Municipality.

Department of Transportation:

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is continuing its long-term assessment of the road from Bird to Anchorage. They are seeking improvements that can enhance safety and better take advantage of the beauty and recreational potential of Turnagain Arm. DOT has also brought in a third-party to look at the various options for the intersection between the Alyeska Highway (road into Girdwood) and the Seward Highway.

Girdwood Workforce Childcare Project:

Girdwood Inc is very excited to announce it has received a new grant of $530,000. This was a competitive grant, made possible by the State of Alaska Childcare Program Office. The planning grant, which includes fees for design, architecture, engineering, consulting and legal fees is another major step forward for Little Bears Playhouse to own and operate a new and safe childcare facility. The project team is anticipating construction to begin in 2025. The future facility will substantially increase capacity, include childcare/classrooms, administrative space, as well as a multipurpose room for indoor play activities and inclement weather. The need for a new childcare space has been an existing issue in Girdwood for a decade or more. Girdwood Inc is excited to be part of the solution for safety reasons, as well as building a strong future for our children and economy.

Community Spotlight:

Girdwood Rotary is holding their first annual Fall Festival on Saturday September 23, from 12-6 PM in Girdwood Town Square. The event includes kid’s games, family photo opportunity, live music and vendors.

Girdwood Rotary is one of the 46,000 rotary clubs world-wide. The international mission statement is: “We provide service to others, promote integrity, and advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through our fellowship of business, professional, and community leaders.” Regular meetings are open to the public. These meetings are typically held at Alpenglow Coffeehouse at 140 Olympic Mountain Loop on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays each month.