Why Anchorage Lacks More Residential Building Sites

It’s no secret that Anchorage is running out of lots, whether it’s for multi-family or single family development. There are many buyers in today’s local market that are frustrated due to the lack of larger lots.  Many want to move-up from their 6,000 to 8,000 square foot lot into a more hillside, larger lot community but there is little inventory.  The stream setback requirements of up to 100 feet make building on some lots and tracts  impossible.  Lack of road infrastructure with the heavy burden on the developer, without participation from the MOA, makes some higher elevation land  un-developable,  without going beyond many buyer’s comfort zone for a new home which frequently tops out at around $800,000.

However, Anchorage is not alone in its woes for more building sites.  A recent article in the online publication,BUILDER, aptly described the pressure building on land acquisition and development across the U.S. The front loaded investment for land acquisition at 65% loan to value plus the regulatory stranglehold of the permitting process adds an additional 24% to the cost of development, according to national statistics.  Here in Anchorage during the l980’s and into the l990’s, a developer could buy a tract of land and have finished lots by September of the same year.  Now, add another year for platting and perhaps another year or even two for a rezone if there is objection from the local community council. Meanwhile, Anchorage’s housing crunch continues with home building at historic lows of less than 200 single family units for the past three years.  According to various reports, Anchorage needs 900 new housing units a year.  All total in 2017, including multi family and publicly subsidized housing, Anchorage failed to meet even 50% of its publicly stated goal.

Locally, part of the problem is lack of advocacy by the home builders themselves.  Most don’t have the personal resources to hire paid staff for advocacy to changes to the Design Criteria Manual which establishes road standards.  Nor do they have lobbyists to lobby the local elected officials for MOA  participation in the extension of water and sewer or sharing in the cost of rural collectors which would open up more hillside vacant land.  I once had a mayor tell me that a city defines itself by its commercial and community buildings.  Well and good but where are the users of those buildings going to live?  In the Valley which continues to have population growth while Anchorage continues to lose over 1,000 citizens for the past few years?

Anchorage needs all types of new housing—both public and privately developed and financed.  After all, 75% of our housing stock was built between l970 and l990 which means most of our units are meeting ‘their end of life’.    But, along with the mega plans for mixed use, multi-story rental units, lets not forget where most of Americans and Alaskans want to live—in a single family home with a garage big enough for their pick-up truck.

Author: Connie Yoshimura

Connie Yoshimura, owner/broker of Dwell Realty, has over 30 years of residential real estate experience with an exemplary track record of excellent customer service and extensive community knowledge in Anchorage and Eagle River. Connie has built a solid reputation in the real estate community and she was the number one individual realtor according to MLS in 2015. Connie served as the Chair of Planning and Zoning Commission for the Municipality of Anchorage and she has ample experience on developing communities from the ground up, including such popular neighborhoods in Southport and southeast Anchorage. Her avocation is playwriting and she has a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa, Iowa City. Her plays have received productions and/or staged readings in Los Angeles, New York City, Oklahoma City and her hometown of Anchorage, Alaska where she resides with her husband, Ric Davidge, project manager for CY Investments, LLC and two poodles, Peaches and Hapa. Connie is a popular real estate columnist and her articles appear in Alaska Journal of Commerce, Alaska Dispatch News, and Homes and Land Magazines. She was featured in Anchorage’s Centennial book on Anchorage by Charles Wohlforth. If you’re interested about real estate in Anchorage and Eagle River, you could read her latest blogs at www.columnsbyconnie.com. Connie is proud to have helped thousands of buyers and sellers through the challenging process of marketing, negotiating, and closing on their homes. She looks forward to assisting you with your home buying and selling needs. She is also available as a residential land development consultant. You may contact her at cyoshimura@gci.net or call her at 907-646-3670 (Office) or 907-229-2703 (Cell). My Listings

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