Norwegian Cruise Line donates Juneau waterfront package to Huna Totem after buying it for $20 million
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings spent $20 million on nearly three acres of prime waterfront properties in 2018, beating the city and borough and Juneau and other bidders with a bid that was more than five times the appraised value. ground.
Yesterday, Norwegian donated this property to Huna Totem Corporation, a Hoonah-related Alaska Native corporation headquartered in Juneau.
Norwegian has shared its ideas for the 2020 property, but it has yet to be developed. Huna Totem plans to work with Juneau-based Goldbelt, Inc. and other Alaska Native companies to complete the project.
“This is an amazing gift for Juneau and our Goldbelt shareholders,” Goldbelt Chairman and CEO McHugh Pierre said in a press release. “Giving the property back to the Tlingit people is a great way to honor the culture of this community.
Mickey Richardson, marketing and public relations manager for Huna Totem, said the company likes to invest in local projects and the majority of its shareholders live in Juneau.
“Being locally owned and operated, we hope the project will reflect the values of the native people of Juneau as well as the Juneau community,” he said.
The company aims to submit plans to local planning officials for a tourist facility and wharf by the end of the year. Richardson said the goal is to complete the project for the 2025 cruise season.
Alexandra Pierce, Juneau’s director of tourism, said the change is unlikely to lead to an overhaul of Norwegian’s concept.
“We were told that they plan to maintain the essential elements as presented to the community: the underground parking lot, the open public space and the ocean center,” she said. “But we haven’t seen a revised plan yet.”
Pierce has worked with Norwegian on his plans since the company bought the property. She said Huna Totem will have to show the Juneau Planning Commission that its plans meet the goals and criteria established by the Visitor Industry Working Group.
She says the next step for Huna Totem will be to apply to the Planning Commission for a conditional use permit. This will be the next opportunity for the public to comment.
Huna Totem and Goldbelt still require city permission to develop and operate in city-owned tidal areas around the property. The Coast Guard and NOAA must also be on board if the project impacts their access to the water.
Pierce said she looks forward to having a definitive answer on what the development of the plot will look like so the city’s long-term planning can move forward.
“We’re looking forward to a yes or no answer on this project,” she said. “We have a lot of plans and ideas that depend on whether or not a fifth cruise pier is built.”
Norwegian did not immediately respond when KTOO asked why the company gave away land it had spent millions to acquire. But in a press release, a Norwegian executive said the company wanted the project to be integrated with the local community and it had become “pretty clear” that Huna Totem should lead the effort.
Norwegian and Huna Totem have worked together before. Last March, the companies agreed to develop a wharf in Whittier.
This is a developing story and may be updated.