Along with Nordstrom closure, changes abound on 6th Ave.

The Nordstrom store in Anchorage will be closing in September 2019. (KTUU)
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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - In downtown Anchorage, a trip to Nordstrom became a tradition for many over the past four decades, the announcement of its closure triggering lots of memories for avid fans.

The department store's departure, however, isn't the only big change coming to 6th Ave.

"They've announced their closure, said Andrew Halcro of the Anchorage Community Development Authority, "and on Sept. 13, they'll pull out. But there's already discussions underway about what might go there and how we might fill that space."

The identity of an official new tenant is up in the air, but plans are in the works, not only for that spot on 6th Ave. but also other large properties on the same street.

"You have three major changes on just 6th Ave. between H and C," Halcro said.

Some of those major changes involve the J.C. Penney parking lot complex, which is set to be torn down in the coming months and replaced with housing and a hotel, and the downtown transit center, where a project comprising a boutique hotel, restaurant and 32 studio apartments is underway.

Some visitors to downtown Friday afternoon said the revamps are much needed.

"It seems to be declining in my opinion," said Sherri Weiler, an Alaska resident. "Not just because Nordy's is closing, although that has a lot to do with it."

Others, including local business owner Ellen Arvold who owns and operates Second Run, said they feel downtown is on the upswing, even with the Nordstrom closure.

"I like the way downtown has kind of come up in the world a little bit," Arvold said. "People like to live downtown more, people like to walk around downtown."

Even some visitors had only compliments and no complaints.

"I think the parks and gardens are quite beautiful," said Dennis Linigan, who was visiting from Australia. "And the streets are uncluttered - it's quite good."

Halcro said there are widespread concerns regarding the overall condition of the downtown area, including an increasingly large homeless population and other safety issues such as unkempt sidewalks.

In any case, he said, especially with so many changes happening all at once, the overall hope is for a sunnier future ahead.

"We know that downtown ebbs and flows, right?" Halcro said. "Good days and bad days. Downtown is a struggle, and right now, downtown is going through a transition.

"I think you have to look underneath the hood downtown," he continued, "because there really is some exciting things happening."