Japonski Island Boathouse Adaptive Reuse

Location:Sitka, AK

Owner:Sitka Maritime Heritage Society

Status:Under construction

The Japonski Island Boathouse and Marine Ways was constructed by the US government in 1941 to serve the Sitka Naval Airbase. The building was used until the late 1970's when it was closed up and almost abandoned. In 1986 the Sitka Naval Operating Base & U.S. Army Coastal Defenses District National Landmark was established, including the Boathouse property. In 2002, the Sitka Maritime Heritage Society received a grant to begin assessment of the property for consideration of restoration and adaptive re-use. In 2004 a condition and hazardous materials assessment was completed, as well as a concept plan which addresses the SMHS goals for the property.

In 2009 the NorthWind design team was engaged to reevaluate the SMHS goals and means, and develop a feasible rehabilitation and adaptive reuse. The building is on a prominent site in Sitka, and with restoration to original operational condition brings multiple exciting opportunities to Sitka:

  • An active marine railway to facilitate ongoing repair and maintenance of the historic wood salmon trolling fleet.
  • An educational venue for local schools and the University of Alaska Southeast campus.
  • A location for the development of a maritime interpretive center, highlighting military, fishing, Russian, and native Alaskan Maritime history.
  • A destination and base for both cultural and nature tourism activities.
  • A focal point for local maritime activities including workshops, celebrations, and festivals.

Restoration efforts include repair and reactivation of the original marine railway, restoration and upgrades to the existing building envelope, addition of a visitors lobby and bathroom, and the implementation of a tidelands ground source heat pump. With bid documents published in early 2011, it is anticipated the project will move forward as a series of phased projects over the course of the following two years.