News You Can Use: Downtown Businesses Prepare for Summer Tourism

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2016-04-21 17.59.53

Businesses reporting on what’s new:

  • Anthony at Jazz Bistro on 4th has live music Wednesday – Saturday nights from 7:30 – 9:30. Anthony wondered if buses could use 3rd or 4th Avenue as an alternate drop-off point for tourists.
  • Frank Eagle of Lavelle’s Bistro reminded everyone that Lavelle’s Taphouse is open on 2nd Ave. and will have a Beer & Bacon event on Saturday, April 23rd starting at 11 AM. The Lavelle’s Discovery Room is also newly opened in the Marriott. Once Lavelle’s Bistro re-opens its outdoor seating for the summer every Thursday night will feature a K-9 cocktail party!
  • Julie Jones of Festival Fairbanks announced the Golden Heart Plaza’s concert schedule.
  • Tim Staton announced that for this summer the Parking Garage will feature 4-hour free parking. Station also urged business owners to NOT park on-street and NOT to allow their employees to park on-street, as well.
  • A clean up party was suggested and then spontaneously arranged for April 27th starting at 5:30 PM at the Elbow Room on 2nd Avenue.  Bring gloves and a broom!

Tourism Industry update:

  • Deb Hickok of Explore Fairbanks reported that 2015 was the peak for Fairbanks’ bed tax collections, surpassing 2008’s levels by 2%; according to TSA figures, the Fairbanks International Airport is the 6th fastest-growing airport in America in terms of throughput; that drive-in visitors at the Al-CAN Highway border crossing increased 16% over the prior year; that of the 132,000 visitors at Morris Thompson Center, only 7% were on large tours.
  • Danielle Hayes of HAP Alaska/Yukon reported that their numbers for 2016 are “up a little” this year. Many of the 90,000 land tour guests will make it to Fairbanks, mostly on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The patterns for Denali and Dawson still include a bus and a plane, respectively, and will allow guests more time in Fairbanks, and some patterns allow guests 2-3 days in Fairbanks.  Most Fairbanks patterns will be downtown for lunch. A shuttle from the Princess Hotel will operate 10 AM – 10 PM. Last year the shuttle had about 12,000 riders.
  • Buzzy Chiu of Premier Alaska Tours reported being up 5-8% over last year. There will be 6 more “series tours” than last year. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays will be busiest. Not all groups will lunch downtown. Downtown businesses are encouraged to email Buzzy with “20-minute lunch specials” that she’ll pass it on to her tour directors.

Future construction projects:

  • Bob Pristash from the City of Fairbanks said the Cushman Compete Street will be in fact complete by mid-May, with non-disruptive work continuing to June 15. The work remaining includes landscaping, valley gutters at all cross streets, finishing all cross walks, installing traffic signals, more electrical wiring and striping. Expect lane and crosswalk striping and tree installation to occur on or near Arbor Day, May 16. Expect lane closures for both lane striping/crosswalks and installation of valley gutters. Finally, there is a project to cut the bulb-outs out of 3rd Avenue, which could occur as early as this summer.
  • Sarah Schacher from DOT assured that there will be no road work on Noble Street this summer and no expected lane closures or any access impairment while GVEA performs their advance utility work on Noble this summer. Expect Wendell Bridge to be closed for up to 18 months starting in 2017 as that bridge is replaced, along with major pedestrian/bike facilities to access both bridgeheads.

Downtown Community Policing update:

  • Police Chief Randall Aragon introduced Deputy Chief Eric Jewkes and Office David Elzey. Aragon said that there would be a summer police presence downtown.