The Shoppes at Sun Mountain: Wasilla grows with first Sonic, a Planet Fitness, retail, residential options.

Author:Friedman, Sam

Real estate developer Cameron Johnson is building a mixed-use walkable community amidst one of the last large pieces of undeveloped land along the Parks Highway in Wasilla.

His plans for the thirty-two acre Shoppes at Sun Mountain include the first Sonic Drive-In restaurant in Alaska, other restaurants, professional offices, a Planet Fitness gym, townhouse condominiums, and senior housing.

There really isn't anything else in the Valley that has that walkability factor, where you can walk out your front door and walk to the gym, go shopping, have lunch, go to the bank, and everything is within walking distance. That's what we want to develop," he says.

Missed Opportunity

The new development spans several parcels in an area surrounded by the Parks Highway, Red Robin, Sportsman's Warehouse, the Windbreak Hotel, and homes. The location is just east of downtown Wasilia, among a cluster of large retail stores that include Target, a Walmart Supercenter, Fred Meyer, and Lowe's.

More than a decade ago, there were plans to develop the site into a Costco store. When the Great Recession hit, the former developer's lender, First National Bank Alaska, foreclosed on the property.

Johnson grew up in Wasilla back when the main retail shopping was an indoor mall, which has since been demolished and is now the site of the Wasilia Target. Today, Johnson lives in Southern California where he is co-owner of A&C Investment Group. The majority of A&C's business is developing residential properties in California. The company has also worked in Arizona and Utah.

In 2011, the company started working in Alaska's Matanuska-Susitna Borough, an area in which Johnson sees a lot of potential.

"The population continues to grow, and with it is going to come infrastructure and more commercial amenities," he says. "There's [also] a sentimental value to me. I want to help grow our community. It's my community."

A&C Investments has developed more than 300 housing units in the Mat-Su Borough, much of it new construction, Johnson says. The company also recently purchased Settlers Bay Lodge, a Wasilla steakhouse.

The Shoppes at Sun Mountain : is the largest commercial project A&C Investment Group has ever undertaken. Johnson estimates it will cost between $50 million and $60 million to construct all the new buildings and associated infrastructure. Because most of his experience is in residential development, Johnson partnered with Anchorage-based commercial broker Jack White Real Estate on the project.

The general contractor is H5 Construction, a Wasilla-based construction company that Johnson helped found in 2012.

Breaking Ground

Johnson began thinking about buying the site of the failed Costco...

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