City and Borough of Juneau
155 S. Seward Street
Juneau, Alaska 99801
tel. 907-586-5240
fax 907-586-5385

Historic Preservation in Juneau


Why Historic Preservation?
The history of a community contributes to its personality. Preserving the history of a place through its historic properties gives a community its unique character. Historic preservation provides a link to the roots of the community and its people. It provides economic development opportunities in tourism and construction related jobs for repair and rehabilitation. Overall, historic preservation adds to the quality of life making for a more livable community.

Historic preservation is beneficial to the community in the following ways:

  • Culturally a community is richer for having the tangible presence of past eras and historic styles.

  • Economically a community benefits from increased property values and tax revenues when historic buildings are protected and made the focal point of revitalization and when the community is attractive to visitors seeking heritage tourism opportunities.

  • Socially a community benefits when citizens take pride in its history and mutual concern for the protection of the historic building fabric.

  • Developmentally a community benefits from having a concerted and well defined planning approach for the protection of historic buildings while accommodating healthy growth.

  • Environmentally a community benefits when historic buildings are recycled (restored, rehabilitated) rather than demolished and disposed of in the community landfill.

  • Educationally a community benefits through teaching local heritage and the understanding of the past and the resultant cultural respect by its citizens.

Why Preservation Planning?
Historic preservation efforts can be influenced by local, state, and national social, political, economic, legal and other factors. These influences can come from private enterprises or public agencies. Successful preservation planning recognizes these influences and utilizes a process for resolving conflicts from various interest groups and reaching consensus within the community.

Historic preservation planning is important for the following reasons:

  1. To clearly state goals of preservation in the community.

  2. To let residents know in advance how the community wants to grow and what the community wants to protect.

  3. To assure consistency between various government policies that affect the community’s historic resources.

  4. To educate and inform citizens about their heritage and its value to the community.

  5. To create an agenda for preservation activities and to create a way to measure progress in protecting historic resources.

  6. To comprehensively address issues relating to tourism, zoning, traffic patterns, development patterns, and design that affect historic preservation.

  7. To encourage economic development through the preservation of historic resources.

  8. To strengthen the political understanding of and support for historic preservation policies.

Trends Affecting Historic Resources
Juneau has experienced tremendous growth of its tourism industry in the past few years. The greatest increase in the number of visitors has been those arriving by cruise ship. The ships dock or anchor in the harbor immediately adjacent to the Downtown Historic District. With the pressure for additional tourist related commercial space many buildings in the historic district have been converted from resident oriented commercial uses such as hardware, grocery, drug, or clothing stores. The trend is for shops to open during the summer season then close for the balance of the year creating a seasonal ghost town. While the historic district design standards has helped maintain the historic architectural character of the district, the historic mix of residential, office, and resident oriented retail uses has been compromised. New development in the community tends to be suburban auto-oriented in nature thus the downtown is losing its historic personality.

Juneau’s overall resident population has grown in recent years as well. As families grow they need and want more living space. This often results in significant additions to existing houses or removal of existing buildings and constructing larger suburban style new houses. This trend can be detrimental to the overall historic character of the neighborhood by compromising the original scale and style of the uildings. These new developments often impact historic views of the area or from neighboring properties. Historic landscaping may also be impacted with the development of new industries, roads, and other projects.

The Juneau Historic Preservation Plan identifies the need for recording and preserving the pre-history, history, and Native culture of the Juneau community. It proposes the evaluation of important elements within the community which are critical in preserving its unique historic character and suggests a need for a public process for decision making when development and other pressures threaten historic and cultural resources.

This planning document describes the community’s history and makes recommendations about the preservation of its historic resources. It establishes a purpose for preservation and reviews the relationship of the preservation plan to the CBJ Comprehensive Plan. The document describes how community involvement has been a vital element in the development of the plan and stresses the need for continued review and updating of the plan.

The purpose of this Historic Preservation Plan is to guide efforts to preserve and protect the valuable historic and cultural resources of the Juneau community. The plan is intended to influence the direction of changes and development by public and private activities to be sensitive to historic preservation and cultural resource values.

The plan establishes goals and objectives that the community has determined to be important for historic preservation. It defines policies and actions that will serve as a road map for future activities with an eye toward achieving the preservation goals.

The plan recommends the establishment of a process to consider historic and cultural resources when development activities are proposed. Additionally, it recommends that work continue to document, protect, and preserve important historic and cultural resources. The plan recommends that CBJ provide a leadership role for this effort.

Upon final review and approval by the HRAC, the preservation plan will be presented to the CBJ Planning Commission for their consideration and further public review. Ultimately the CBJ Assembly will be asked for their review and hopefully adoption as an official plan to guide historic preservation in Juneau.

Public Involvement
The development of Juneau’s Historic Preservation Plan involved public participation throughout the process (see Appendix A). A public scoping meeting was held to identify concerns and issues related to historic and cultural resources. The comments of the community participants and members of the Historic Resources Advisory Committee (HRAC), who hosted the meeting, were incorporated into the plan. The HRAC held a number of regular public meetings during the course of the plan’s development to discuss the planning process and to review the outline of the plan. A public hearing was held by the HRAC for its final review of the draft document. The HRAC directed CDD staff to incorporate final changes to the document based upon the public comments received and its own review.

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