Kodiak Area Native Association plans to demolish the downtown Kraft building it owns and replace it with retail, postal, office and storage space. Mike Pfeffer, KANA’s chief operating officer and acting CEO, shared the news at Tuesday’s City Council work session.
Once completed, the plan is for the building — to be named Kodiak Marketplace — to have both long-term retailers and spaces for individuals and small businesses to set up shop for short periods of time, according to Pfeffer.
“This is a good first step toward downtown revitalization,” said City Manager Mike Tvenge, adding that he hopes it will make downtown a more attractive location for local businesses.
City Councilmember John Whiddon said he thinks the marketplace could become an “anchor spot” for the city. He hopes it will draw people — residents and visitors alike — into the harbor area and establish downtown as a gathering space.
But before that can happen a lot of construction has to take place. The City Council and KANA said they will be working together to make the construction process as smooth as possible.
Unlike the original Kraft building, the marketplace will have two floors — the bottom floor will be retail space, and the top floor will house space for KANA’s economic development team, according to Pfeffer. There also will be storage spaces in the building. The new building will total more than 40,000 square feet, he said.
A detailed timeline for demolition and construction is not yet known, but Pfeffer said he hopes the new exterior will be completed by November 2022.
For more than 20 years, O. Kraft and Son General Merchandise was the dominant retailer on the island, according to Whiddon.
“It harkens back to a simpler day, when Kodiak was more isolated and a much smaller town,” Whiddon told KDM. “Therefore, to rebuild this iconic building it is much more than a remodel or a rebuild. It is a potential catalyst to restore the downtown area and create that gathering place that signifies a community’s downtown identity.”
Construction will partially obstruct the city-owned parking lot across the street, according to Tvenge. At the work session, City Mayor Pat Branson said that the Council will help with construction in any way possible. This support is coming mostly through helping KANA navigate city ordinances and the permitting process, according to Whiddon.
At the work session, Councilmember Richard Walker raised concerns about blocking the parking lot, an issue that Branson said will be addressed at a later date. The following day, in an interview with the KDM, Tvenge said that the parking lot will never be fully obstructed during construction.