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Photo courtesy of Granite Construction Co. Inc.

Loading the gravel train attheEklutnaGranitesitenearBirchwood.

Eklutna, Granite Move Epic Volume of Gravel Making way for Birchwood Industrial Park


he Dena’ina people are quiet by nature, says Curtis McQueen, chief executive of Eklutna Inc. But Eklutna’s shareholders and managers are planning to make plenty of noise about an emerging new project, the Birchwood Industrial Park. It’s a concept that’s been moving toward its debut for several years and is expected to fill a critical need for the greater Anchorage area. The need is land—ready industrial land—something in very short supply. “There’s virtually no industrial land of this size in Anchorage,” McQueen says. The project is in the Birchwood community north of the city, situated strategically between the Alaska Railroad and the Glenn Highway. The stateowned Birchwood Airport is adjacent to the site. To pursue the project, Eklutna assembled what has proven to be an effective partnership involving Granite Construction Inc., Cook Inlet Region Inc.

ByWesleyLoy and the railroad. What the partnership has achieved so far is impressive.

Multiple Assets If you had flown over the site in 2008 and looked down, you would have seen a gentle slope covered with trees. Beneath the trees was a thick gravel bed, deposited long ago by glacial action. One might have reasonably thought, on first impression, that the site wasn’t suitable for development with all that rock in the way. But Eklutna and its partners saw it differently. In fact, the gravel is proving a valuable asset, helping to pay the cost of developing a “nice and flat” 130-acre industrial space in a great location along one of Alaska’s most important transportation corridors, McQueen says. A Herculean gravel extraction campaign is expected to wrap up this summer—and Eklutna is gearing up to market the tract to potential tenants. When it comes to land, Eklutna is a go-to player locally. It’s the largest

private landowner in Anchorage with 90,000 acres within the municipality, including Eagle River, Birchwood, Chugiak, Peters Creek and Eklutna. Eklutna is one of the many Native village corporations formed under the Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement Act of 1971. Incorporated in 1972, Eklutna today has 178 shareholders. The Birchwood site is actually a split estate. Eklutna owns the surface, while CIRI owns the subsurface, including the gravel. In 2009, Eklutna, CIRI and Wilder Construction, then a subsidiary of Granite, signed agreements to mine the Birchwood gravel with an eye toward preparing the site as an industrial park.

Successful Partnership In Granite, Eklutna found a partner with the brawn and know-how to efficiently remove the immense volume of rock on the site. Further, the company really knew the aggregate business and May 2013 | Alaska Business Monthly


May - 2013 - Alaska Business Monthly  

ABOUT THE COVER Robert Dorn works on the rig floor of Nabors 7ES rig, operating the pipe tongs while making a drill pipe connection at the R...

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