As a ten-year, full-time resident of Girdwood, I encourage the Assembly to dispose of the Heritage Land Bank (HLB) Parcels known locally as Holtan Hills, which will allow the project to move forward to its planning phase. The Holtan Hills development will result in the creation of critically-needed housing units in Girdwood. This includes single family and multifamily units with the densities the community approved of in a September 2017 Land Use Committee meeting.
Girdwood has approximately 1,500 full-time residents, but of these only about twenty routinely participate in public forums related to land use. Claims that community opposition to the Holtan Hills project is nearly unanimous should only be taken as statements that community meetings have become echo chambers. Many Girdwood residents support development but are exhausted by the chaos and vitriol that have become common in these meetings.
Girdwood community meetings are not conducted using Roberts Rules. Most businesses owners do not participate in the public process, lest their businesses be targeted. As with all small communities, there is a cost to living in Girdwood. One of those costs is that getting “out of line” can result in vicious attacks on personal character and more.
Municipal code and its planning processes are difficult to navigate. Developers take years to bring online new neighborhoods and housing stock. At a recent forum hosted by the Anchorage Homebuilders Association, one builder announced that they are currently working on three-bedroom, two-bathroom, one-car garage units in midtown that will sell for approximately $300,000. The development already has infrastructure and access. The Holtan Hills parcels do not. Even in the town center of Girdwood, a community well supplies two restaurants and two multi-family, high density homesites. All homes south of Crow Creek road are on wells. The image of our charming resort town needs to be paired with the reality of dirt roads, wells, aging housing stock and illegal multiplexes housing seasonal workers. Residents who desire single family homes are stuck in condos because they cannot afford to move out. Adding single family homes, even starter homes, to our limited supply enables people to move up and out, freeing up existing smaller, mixed density units for occupancy.
Dense multi-use housing is certainly needed in Girdwood. But those who claim to oppose Holtan Hills because it does not include denser housing ignore the fact that the Holtan Hills development is already denser than what would typically be allowed on that HLB parcel.
There is also an element of self-interest in the Halt Holtan Hills group. Opponents of the Holtan Hills project claim that they want to see more affordable housing and fewer short-term rentals, yet many members of Halt Holtan Hills already own valuable single-family housing and use their units for the very high-cost short-term rentals they claim to oppose. Anyone can log onto AirDNA and see 200+ short term rentals currently offered in Girdwood.
Some in the Girdwood community want to dictate the exact type of development, timing, and rules that other residents must follow. It is as though they want to impose and run a Homeowners Association for the entire community.
Opposition to development also stems from misunderstanding the public process and an aversion to change. In some cases, development is opposed because residents are illegally using lands they do not own. Heritage Land Bank parcels—like the parcel slated for use in the Holtan Hills development—are often utilized for unauthorized vehicle or other property storage, mountain bike trails, snow dumping, and tree/lumber cutting.
Girdwood is part of the Municipality of Anchorage, and stopping the Holtan Hills project now—in the eleventh hour—will create a dangerous precedent for builders and developers. Though the housing crisis in Girdwood is particularly severe, housing affordability is already a serious issue in all of Anchorage. Halting the Holtan Hills project would send a loud message to developers and builders that attempting to increase housing stock is very risky because a small group of vocal critics can shut down years of expensive development work. This will have a chilling effect on new building throughout the Municipality.
The Holtan Hills development will not solve all of Girdwood’s problems. But it will create a significant amount of new housing, and market-based disposal of the HLB parcels will result in revenues that can be used to support additional, much-needed development in Girdwood. The Holtan Hills project has followed the public process and will ultimately benefit the community. It will even, in the end, benefit those who claim to oppose the project today.
Stay the course, Assembly Members. Vote YES to dispose of the Holtan Hills parcels.
Christina Hendrickson is a ten-year resident of Girdwood, earned a M.S. in Environmental Law and is the former Real Estate Director for the Municipality of Anchorage.
My op-ed was better. I was going to build and own market rate housing in Girdwood on HLB land but I couldn’t get the minions to fall into line and believe I was a real developer. I guess they knew about all the foreclosures. Anyway, this writer just wants you to believe facts and that is a dangerous precedent. Listen to all the people making up crazy stuff that doesn’t make sense. No way experienced (former) land managers would have made a deal that reaps benefits for both HLB and the community. Could they use the share of profits that… Read more »
I don’t really give a rat’s ass about Girdwood either way but I’m a general contractor/small time developer and am quite familiar with resort towns and trophy real estate and unless this land is legally regulated for “affordable” single family houses, and unless those regs have some serious teeth with an entity ready and capable of using those “teeth” to enforce the regs, it’s going to be developed into whatever type housing makes the developer the most money, end of story. There’s lots of other places in Anc, MatSu with high housing demand and lots to build on, unless the… Read more »
The article talks a good talk but the author is out of touch with the community of which she resides. There is no small group of people opposed to the project As Is. It is a majority. And Halt means pause to get it correct to serve community needs first with public lands
Use the land to build a homeless shelter….oh wait…folks don’t actually care
Christina is in the middle of a lawsuit and was let go from the municipality. Anything she says has her own interests involved and therefore this article should be completely ignored. She can say all she wants, but her involvement stopped a long time ago. She doesn’t even go to meetings. Hasn’t been to one in a LONG TIME! This is really ridiculous and doesn’t belong on print.
Gosh, I wonder why she doesn’t go. You are so charming!
Haha! This is THE dumbest opinion piece Ive read in quite some time. This lady is not only delusional, but “connected”. Hint?
Interesting take from someone owning 4 properties in Girdwood.
Another lie out of Girdwood. Shocking. Two – one of which is vacant and has a new covenant prohibiting short term rentals. Don’t open your mouth if you don’t know what you are talking about, Suckysan.
Ahh, reading land files can be confusing. It would seem Ms. Hendrickson has subdivided that vacant property. I guess we were both wrong.
Interesting take from someone owning 3 properties in Girdwood.
She sold it, moron. Search recorded docs. I’m not wrong.
It’s still in her name, per the muni…Who hurt you? I’m sorry for your pain.
I think we found Christinas burner account.
Christina was the real estate director for a couple of minutes. Bet she just sold her property for half a million dollars so she can pop over and buy one of Connie’s. Cute. Another former muni employee in bed with the developer! Yay!!!
Hilarious, Christina!!! You’re delusional as hell. Density does not equal affordable housing. This project will only exacerbate our community further, and it is because of YOU that there are so many people confused about this project. Your self interest is truly disgusting, can’t wait to see your business work for Connie clearing trees. Gross.
Todos los que quieren Holtan Hills estan bien locos. Puro greed y individualismo. A nadie le importa los effecto que este proyecto tendrá al medio ambiente. Solo dinero dinero dinero.
You will know for certain that this project has no chance of economic viability, and the political machine is being “greased”, as soon as you see the acronym “AIDEA” included in any context.
Where do you see that? I want in on the grift.
I don’t give a shit about this project in one way or another, but it says a lot that all of the critics are hiding behind troll accounts here.
So you know nothing about what’s going on in Girdwood, but your internet spider senses tells you somethings wrong here? Got it. LMFAO!!
Go off coward.
Who says Girdwood is in dire need of development? ‘The Holtan Hills development will not solve all of Girdwood’s problems. But it will create a significant amount of new housing, and market-based disposal of the HLB parcels will result in revenues that can be used to support additional, much-needed development in Girdwood (LIKE WHAT?). The Holtan Hills project has followed the public process and will ultimately benefit the community. It will even, in the end, benefit those who claim to oppose the project today(WHO SAYS)?.’ Stay the course, Assembly Members. Vote YES to dispose (DISPOSE? THAT’S A FUNNY WORD, ISN’T… Read more »