SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Be Careful What You Wish For -- Fewer Jewelry Stores?
By Ed Purvis


May 22, 2007

With over 20 years experience managing commercial properties in the downtown area, I believe that I can say with some authority that the ballot initiative to limit the number of jewelry stores downtown and in Newtown is ill conceived. If approved into law, there is no doubt that our downtown shopping area will suffer year-round empty and un-rentable space on every block as leases expire and change of occupancy is required. This, in contrast to seasonally absent shop owners who come each year to paint and clean and make presentable our entire downtown. Yes, I know they leave in October and it looks pretty lonesome all winter, but these tenants pay rent, taxes, fuel, and maintenance all year to keep their location ready for future seasons. Many of these seasonal jewelry store owners have purchased homes, condos and duplexes in Ketchikan and again, they pay for fuel, maintenance, property taxes on all these properties YEAR-ROUND.

My question to those who support this change is simply; who will take their place in all this retail space? And what products do you envision replacing the existing merchandise that you want gone? One is hard pressed to find local folks willing to make the investment in time and money and commit to year-round lease payments in the downtown area. Believe me, I've tried, and I have several empty spaces in prime locations at reduced rent right now. The statement offered by the proponents that we want "more diversification" and a "more interesting" downtown to offer residents and visitors is a statement of faith without substance in my opinion. We cannot afford to experiment with the concept of "if it's empty, they will come", especially when we are endangering an existing economy that is working well now.

I ask how you would feel if you planned to open a legal business in an area zoned for that legal business and were then told that it cannot happen because there is already another legal business selling the same product on the same block. This borders on being unconstitutional and is definitely biased with prejudice. I wonder how the building owner will feel when he has several empty stores in the former busy downtown tourist zone and he cannot find a tenant that suits the new ordinance? I really wonder how the tax assessor will deal with the decline in downtown property values due to falling revenues from these same buildings that recently underwent a very large increase in assessed valuation. Yes, the jewelry stores have driven the rent higher, but that is a good thing for the economy of our entire town. At present, it does seem that there are too many, but that will take care of itself as the less successful choose not to come back as some already have. To legislate what kind of business can or cannot exist in a business district based solely on how much competition exists for that business in suicidal for this town and our economy. "We just want our town back"... Hey, in case you haven't noticed, logging is over the pulp mill is gone there is no spruce mill in town. We have tourism and we should be out there courting the whole of this industry instead of trying to discourage it through passing unenforceable and restrictive legislation. Please think this through before helping to get it on the ballot.

Ed Purvis
Ketchikan, Alaska

Received May 21, 2007 - Published May 22, 2007

About: "Twenty five year resident of Ketchikan. Builder, Developer and currently Commercial Property Manager with Waterfall Property Management"



Citizens' group asks, "What fate do we choose for our community?" - Citizens for Ketchikan's Future (CKF), a newly formed citizens' group, has submitted a voters' initiative to the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Clerk's office to limit the density of stores exclusively selling jewelry within the City of Ketchikan. Upon approval by the Borough Clerk, the group will collect the required signatures of the 533 registered voters necessary to have the item placed on the regular October ballot. - More...
Friday - May 18, 2007



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Ketchikan, Alaska