Afognak Native Corporation has long claimed to have its foundation deep in the bedrock of the Kodiak archipelago. Now, it’s making that claim literally true.
On July 19, the archipelago’s largest village corporation broke ground on its new 11,000 square-foot Kodiak headquarters. As concrete forms rise, Kodiak eyes are turning to the collection of construction trailers on the Kodiak waterfront that will soon be replaced by a visible addition to the city’s skyline.
“See those reinforcement rods?” said foreman Kelly Davis. “Those go down six, seven feet into the rock. That’s a first here … as far as I know.”
Alutiiq, Afognak’s construction subsidiary, is running the project. “Instead of fighting the bedrock, we’re using the bedrock,” said Alutiiq construction manager Randy Randolph. “That reduces the size of the footing and the amount of the concrete we have to place.”
While the new building will be tied to the rock of Near Island to protect against earthquakes, Afognak spokesman Gerad Godfrey said the new building will be tied to Kodiak’s people as well.
“Two-thirds of the space is dedicated to gatherings,” Godfrey said.
With 7,000 to 8,000 feet of meeting space, Godfrey said the building has the potential to be rented to groups for meetings or parties that want to enjoy a view of Kodiak’s waterfront through massive sea-facing windows.
Discussions are still taking place within Afognak about whether the meeting space will be available for community events or just Afognak ones, he said.
In addition to the meeting space, the building will include new offices for Afognak employees currently housed in a building owned by Natives of Kodiak on Mission Road.
Godfrey said it hasn’t yet been determined if Afognak will follow the lead set by Koniag when it completed its new Kodiak headquarters. After the completion of that building, Kodiak’s regional Native corporation returned some of its Anchorage offices to Kodiak.
Any such discussion is still months away, however. The construction schedule calls for the building to be complete by November 2013, with a ribbon cutting in time for Christmas.
“We fully intend to complete the concrete foundation work this fall,” Randolph said. “If the weather stays halfway nice, we’ll start erecting steel in the middle of October.”
If the weather doesn’t cooperate, Randolph said construction could go on hiatus until spring.
For the time being, however, construction is pressing ahead. On Tuesday, nine people were at work on the Near Island site. Davis said work is on schedule so far, and the job has offered one unexpected side benefit.
Because one of Koniag’s webcams is pointed directly at the construction site, he’s been working with an online audience of friends and family, he said. “It’s kind of neat because I’ve got family all over the country.”
By next year, others will be enjoying the same view Davis is.
“It’s obviously going to be a beautiful view,” Godfrey said. “It’s a big step for us to try to have our building there. It’s something the board has wanted for many years, and it’s finally coming about.”