CIHA's investments in Spenard will maintain the neighborhood's unique identity but improve its livability. Our past, present, and future investment in the neighborhood include innovative development, the transformation of community spaces, and environmental efforts.
The Story of Spenard
Though Spenard got its start as a city apart from Anchorage, the neighborhood is now a vital community known for its happenings, food scene, and much more. Spenard began as a lumber camp during the construction of the Alaska Railroad. During the oil boom of the early 1980s, when local enterprises included bars and gambling institutions, Spenard gained a reputation as one of the “red light districts” in the region. But Spenard has grown--and grown up. Today, the neighborhood spans both sides of the winding namesake Spenard Road and features strong local businesses, proud residents, and more than a few local artists. Spenard is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Anchorage, and in some areas, also one of the poorest. The Anchorage Comprehensive Plan identifies Spenard Road as one of the city’s core commercial corridors and encourages new housing, mixed-use development, and road and transit improvements. Within this broader framework, CIHA has focused redevelopment efforts at the intersection of 36th Avenue and Spenard Road.
Investing in Spenard
In 2004, CIHA moved our main office to the intersection of 36th and Spenard. In 2010, we finally began investing in our own neighborhood. CIHA’s first purchase was the former PJ’s strip club, followed by the former Olson’s gas station and numerous other residential and commercial properties. In 2017, we completed a mixed-use building at 3600 Spenard Road, which added 33 one-bedroom units as well as new commercial space. Environmental remediation at the old gas station site was also completed in 2017, clearing the way for future development.
In addition to housing and commercial development planned for the area, CIHA operates the former Church of Love as a community and cultural hub in the neighborhood. The Church of Love is a venue for local arts and music as well as a place for members of the community to interact and engage.
- One of Anchorage’s most diverse neighborhoods, Spenard is home to over 12,000 residents.
- CIHA has already completed 33 units of housing and is planning to add more.
- Neighborhood revitalization has included mixed-use developments, environmental cleanups, a new community space, and more.
Local Storefronts, Thoughtful Design
Our focus on mixed-use buildings, which offer both residential and retail space, aligns with city- and neighborhood-wide plans that call for revitalized retail space along Spenard Road.
Honoring Our Land
With support from the State of Alaska and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), CIHA cleaned up a contaminated site at 3607 Spenard Road. Following the clean up CIHA plans to bring new housing and commercial development to the area, turning this blighted site into a symbol of positive change.
As a participant in ArtPlace America’s Community Development Investments (CDI) program, CIHA is partnering with artists and residents to explore creative solutions for community issues. Projects have included Living Big, Living Small, an artist-led initiative to design the city’s first micro-apartments and MimeSpenard, a performance art project that helped bring businesses and residents together during the renovation of Spenard Road itself. The Reclaiming Asphalt projects, which have demonstrated a new way of thinking about our streetscapes, historic buildings, and gathering spaces.
In 2015, CIHA purchased the historic Church of Love at 3502 Spenard Road. Today, the Church of Love is being utilized for a variety of community and arts-related initiatives, from community meetings to live theater and artist studios.