A group of local and state leaders gathered Friday for a tour of Fairview; exploring ways to revitalize one of Anchorage’s oldest neighborhoods.
The name itself is ironic, because the view from the community near Downtown Anchorage isn’t always fair. When it comes to overcoming problems tied to substance abuse and homelessness, some Fairview residents are skeptical.
“We’re still gonna have these trash cans with all our liquor bottles,” said Amber Morrison, who’s unemployed and spent part of Friday morning sitting on a curb near Gambell Street. “Some people, I think their book’s already written.”
Others are optimistic, and out to prove Fairview has a bright future.
“We like the image of a pearl,” said Paul Fuhs, director of the Fairview Business Association. “It’s kind of an irritating piece of sand that turns into something beautiful.”
Friday’s bus tour included members of the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation, Anchorage business owners, state lawmakers and Gov. Sean Parnell. Parnell told neighborhood leaders that he was familiar with the “old Fairview,” and happy to listen to their plan for the future. The bus passed Beans Cafe and Brother Francis Shelter, and one local business owner said problems with homeless alcoholics are something they deal with every day.
“Each one has a story and we’re not trying to demonize them,” Fuhs said. “We’re trying to get them in a position where we can really get them the help that they need.”
The Alaska Legislature recently approved $4 million in funding to address Anchorage street alcohol problem. The Municipality of Anchorage also approved a plan to grant tax abatements to businesses seeking to redevelop blighted properties in Fairview and bring new workforce housing to the neighborhood. There are also plans to improve transportation through the neighborhood; upgrading pedestrian walkways and building a new bypass to connect the Seward Highway to the Glenn Highway.
Local leaders said the plans could change everything for Fairview — all it needs is the chance to grow.
“Fertile ground needs to be tilled,” Popp said Friday. “It needs to be cared for to actually be successful in growing new business.”