New affordable housing project aims to spark positive change in Spenard
A low-income housing organization is buying up a run-down stretch of Spenard Road, and when it is done with construction, the area could look a whole lot different.
Cook Inlet Housing Authority (CIHA) is building its latest affordable housing project where the old PJ’s Strip Club used to sit at the intersection of 36th Avenue and Spenard Road. The Anchorage-based nonprofit hopes the long-awaited project will have a domino effect on the neighborhood.
“I think there’s a lot of potential. I think this neighborhood needs it,” said Mark Fineman, CIHA vice president on project management and construction.
CIHA broke ground on the $10 million building last week. It will be three-stories tall with 33 one-bedroom apartments and retail space on the ground floor.
“Having housing available in an area like Spenard is real helpful in just the revitalization process,” Fineman said, adding that this project is just the start. “We’re buying the properties that make sense.”
CIHA now owns a handful of properties that surround its Spenard office building, including the former Church of Love, the former Alpina Auto Repair lot and a small strip mall.
“It seems like we have the makings of a campus-type area,” Fineman said.
Across the street, Anchorage Auto Mart owner Jesse Musliu said he’s considering selling too if it means bringing new life to the neighborhood.
“When I first came here in 1978, as you drove up and down, we were surrounded by escort services and seedy joints,” he said. “Spenard was pretty much the Anchorage red district. I think it’s going to become better. I truly think so.”
CIHA believes Spenard is evolving and hopes the work it’s doing is just the start of positive change to come.
The project at 3600 Spenard is scheduled to be complete by next August. Rent will be $785, $880 or $1,250 depending on household income.
There’s talk of filling the old Alpina Auto Repair lot will affordable duplexes, but CIHA officials said the idea is still in the beginning stages.
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