Palmer works to continue Matanuska Maid property revitalization
The City of Palmer wants to continue the revitalization of the old Matanuska Maid property in downtown.
The company opened operations on the block adjacent to the train depot in the 1930s; the Mat-Maid Dairy closed in 2007.c
Since then, some of its buildings have been repurposed.
The Matanuska Brewing Company’s tasting room pays tribute to the industry that came before with a sign for the blow mold plant hung up near the taps.
Kevin Burton and Matt Tomter transformed the building in 2017. Instead of churning out dairy products, the space now cranks out cans of craft beer.
“This place has always been in the agriculture business, whether it was a grain storage building or a feed store or at one time it was the blow mold plant. Now it’s a brewery,” Tomter said. “So it’s just kind of sticking with the tradition and why this whole block was put here in the first place.”
Their property also houses Alaska’s first grain elevator and a grain silo they’re working to upgrade, too.
“We’ve got ideas for a tasting room, maybe a top floor. There’s a lot of work to do and it’s expensive,” Tomter said.
They’re not the only ones who’ve renovated a piece of history. Next door, Alaska Picker moved into the old Mat-Maid cold storage building.
“This is where Palmer started in 1935 so for us to be able to be on the front end revitalizing this block was a really, really big selling point for us to move here,” said owner Kelly Turney during a 2017 interview when they opened their doors.
Palmer Mayor Edna DeVries said the question now is what to do with the other property on the block.
The city is using portions of a $550,000 EPA Brownfield Assessment grant received by the Mat-Su Borough to look at ways to improve the area. According to the city’s website, the grant provides funds that “can be used for eligible privately- and publicly-owned sites with known or potential impacts from petroleum or hazardous substances.”
Consultants designed three potential layouts that include green space, trails and three-story buildings with a mix of commercial and residential use.
“That’s one of the things that we get asked quite often is to have more downtown residential areas because people love to walk around Palmer. I think that will really support that idea,” DeVries said.
Anchorage attorney Bill Ingaldson owns the overgrown, vacant lot on the southeast corner of Denali and Dahlia as well as the land where the water tower sits.
Ingaldson said he’s in favor of bringing more housing to downtown as well as a large park or green space.
“Palmer is a great city and you don’t want it to go into oblivion being another strip mall city with no heart and soul. That is the heart and soul and I think it was historically with the colonists and it would be great if it remained that way,” Ingaldson said.
A rusted sign on the block provides a historical description of the area and shows the city has wanted to redevelop the land for years.
Tomter said he’s glad to see the plans finally getting traction.
“Anything we can do with this property to drive people into Palmer to shop and hang out and be entertained, that’s good for business and it’s good for the town,” he said.
The Palmer City Council has hosted two meetings to take public comment on the proposed designs. DeVries said there will be another meeting in October to narrow down what kind of development they want to see and how to help the landowners move forward to make it happen.
Copyright 2019 KTVA. All rights reserved.
MORE FROM THE MAT-SU: