JUNEAU, Alaska — University of Alaska Southeast’s Auke Bay bookstore that closed in 2014 might become a hub for local businesses.

Two businessmen have bought the building and plan to lease it out to create a hub for the growing community, the Juneau Empire reported .

Garrett Shoenberger and Paul Simpson, the new owners, presented their plans last week to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce.

The men say they will put the building up for lease soon and have already received interest from local companies.

“Our objective with this project is not to get Starbucks to go in here,” Shoenberger said. “It’s to get local businesses that can collaborate with one another and that can deliver amenities to a submarket that needs it.”

Shoenberger and Simpson envision something like an Alaskan Brewing Company restaurant or a local coffee shop with a drive-thru but are open to ideas.

Alaskan Brewing Company Communications Manager Andy Kline said the company looked at the property, but isn’t interested at the time because of ongoing negotiations to buy city property in Juneau.

Shoenberger and Simpson both graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School. Shoenberger’s background is in commercial real estate, while Simpson has a background in venture capital investments.

Simpson said that ideally, they would like to get leases worked out in the next couple of months and open up for business later this year. He said it’s more likely that it could be at the end of this year or early in 2019.

“There’s something going on, and it’s pretty special,” Shoenberger said, “and I don’t think it’s been tapped yet.”

The men also plan to build housing behind the building in the future.


Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com