Housing authority plans condo construction

The infamous orange and green condominiums just north of the Mountain View Community Center are on the road to redevelopment.

Cook Inlet Housing Authority is under contract to purchase all 21 of the units at 425 Price St. and 434 Irwin St., planning to rehabilitate the aging buildings inside and out, according to Tyler Robinson, CIHA director of development finance and planning.

The proposal is still in the very early stages, with the housing authority hoping to close on the sale within the next few weeks, Robinson said at a Jan. 8 Mountain View Community Council meeting. Speaking to council members in a windowless basement room at the Mountain View Community Center, Robinson described CIHA’s efforts to purchase and renovate the neighboring property.

“Frankly, it’s not an easy feat,” Robinson said. “But given the proximity to this facility and what happens here and this kind of being the center and the heart of the neighborhood, we feel it’s an important development effort to take on.”

Built more than 40 years ago at the peak of the last oil boom, the Marina and Karina Park condominiums share the block with the Mountain View Boys & Girls Club, Lyons Park and New Hope Baptist Church. Over the years, the twin complexes fell into disrepair: Twisted fences surrounded broken windows and old graffiti stained fading walls. Police calls were frequent. Dumpsters overflowed outside overcrowded condos, and animal waste piled up on narrow patios outside. Neighbors complained about noise. Something needed to be done, said Mountain View Boys & Girls Club manager Dave Barney. The housing authority began making plans.

The nonprofit CIHA currently owns nearly 300 units scattered throughout Mountain View, including multiple houses and duplexes on the blocks surrounding the community center. Following renovation, the Marina and Karina condos would continue to operate as rental units, Robinson said.

The project is still in flux, and the next steps include a municipal determination of nonconforming rights for the property, Robinson said. Renovating the condo complexes involves solving the problem of parking, currently limited to a single shared lot too small to meet modern municipal code. The project would also involve complex financing, Robinson said.

To purchase and rehabilitate the condominiums, the housing authority plans to work with multiple investors, including the Mountain View-based Anchorage Community Land Trust, Robinson said. Kirk Rose, ACLT executive director, said his organization hopes to use the condo project to take a broader look at redevelopment in the area, including possible upgrades at the neighborhood community center.

“We really focused on what we’re calling a ‘block-wide’ approach,” Rose said. “There’s an opportunity for the investment in this property to intersect with new investment in the community center.”

That conversation is just beginning, Rose said. The end result could impact the entire block and — by extension — the whole neighborhood.

“It’s just an opportunity to look at things differently,” Robinson said.


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