Rebuilding the Gateway in the Heart of the Mat-Su Borough
Pioneer Peak seen from Hatcher Pass.
A $6.7 million federal grant lets the Mat-Su Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) build a replacement for the Gateway Visitor Center.
The process of replacing the old visitor center on Trunk Road began in 2006. Following a feasibility study in 2010, a $1 million state grant enabled the purchase in 2014 of a 49-acre site at Mile 36 of the Glenn Highway, formerly the Homestead RV Park just uphill from the Glenn-Parks Highway junction.
Wolf Architecture completed the design of the 10,600-square-foot complex in November 2016, thanks to another $1.2 million capital grant from the state.
The final piece is a grant from the US Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration, part of a $500 million program authorized by the American Rescue Plan.
“President Biden recognizes the vital contribution the travel and tourism industry makes to the American economy,” Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in a release announcing the grant. “This project will create new opportunities for businesses in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough to tap into Alaska’s important tourism economy, expanding the potential for economic growth and resilience.”
The Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly would have to vote to accept the federal grant and match another $1.7 million to cover the total construction cost of $8.4 million. The borough would own the facility, and the Mat-Su CVB would manage it.
“The purpose of the Gateway Visitor Center,” explains Mat-Su CVB President and CEO Bonnie Quill, “is to promote tourism-related and recreation-related economic development, to share information about the region’s cultural history and natural attractions in an innovative and interesting way, and to foster stewardship of the Mat-Su Valley’s cultural and natural identity.”
The Mat-Su CVB hopes to have the new Gateway Visitor Center ready in time for hosting the 2024 Arctic Winter Games.
“The Gateway Visitor Center will be a world-class facility that showcases our region, our culture and our local businesses and partners to visitors,” says Mat-Su CVB board chair Mark Fleenor. “It will stimulate economic growth through jobs creation, and it will encourage our visitors to stay longer and spend more. This will have a positive economic impact on every corner of the Mat-Su Borough.”
Gateway is an unincorporated community between Palmer and Wasilla, with nearly the same population as Palmer.