Apartment and Retail Space Proposed for Former Strip Club Site
Agency wants to revitalize Spenard area
ANCHORAGE - Alaska Leather is a long-time Spenard fixture, and the owner, Barbara Smart, is passionate about the history of the area.
She's also passionate about its future.
When Smart found out about Cook Inlet Housing Authority's plan to develop the old PJ's strip club site on Spenard Road and 36th, it brought back memories.
“In the '60s Papa Joe started a super club there called The Glass, and when that didn't work he started PJ's and it turned into a strip club and it was open for a lot of years,” said Smart.
“My sister's wedding reception was there in 1969,” she said.
Cook Inlet Housing Authority bought the land last year, and it's planning on building apartments and small retail spaces.
Smart says any type of development to attract people and business is a good thing.
"I think something more along the lines of business ground floor with apartments above -- kind of like they do in Europe. I think that would be wonderful wonderful addition to this area,” said Smart.
Apart from being used for a scene in the filming of the crime thriller "The Frozen Ground," PJ's strip club, and the land, have been sitting unused since the club was shut down more than two and a half years ago.
The community could be waiting another two years before ground is broken.
CIHA is in pre-planning discussions and says it wants to wait before drawing up plans until a decision on the upgrade to Spenard Road is finalized.
The Spenard Community Council is backing the development.
“Compared to a boarded-up strip club, yeah, I think probably a good move,” said council chair Jim Bowers.
Bowers says it will help in the effort to clean up and revitalize the neighborhood while putting an unused block of land to good use.
“I think there's a need for housing in Anchorage, and if they're talking about lower income housing right along a bus route, that's all to the good,” he said.
CIHA says the ground underneath PJ's is contaminated and will need to be cleaned before development takes place.