FAIRBANKS - A local pizza restaurant is the latest business to relocate ahead of a planned road-construction project on Third Street.
Sicily’s Pizza opened its new location at 1246 Noble St. on Monday, six weeks after abruptly closing down its old restaurant across from the Gavora Mall. The restaurant now has plywood nailed over its windows, with a few “no trespassing” signs tacked up that say the building is owned by the state of Alaska.
About a half-dozen buildings along Third Street will eventually be demolished to make room to widen the road. A Holiday Station is the only remaining holdout, with ongoing negotiations to acquire the convenience store’s property at the corner of Third Street and Old Steese Highway.
The project to widen Third Street has been in the works for years. The Alaska Department of Transportation has been buying structures that will be affected by the new road. Sicily’s is the latest business to move, with most of the others departing in 2011 or earlier.
DOT spokeswoman Meadow Bailey said the project is designed to create space in an area notorious for long traffic lines and aggressive driving maneuvers.
“It’s being done to ease congestion,” Bailey said. “There’s not enough capacity for all the vehicles that use that area.”
Construction is anticipated in 2016, depending on property acquisition and utility relocation, Bailey stated in an email.
Sicily’s manager Labinot Thaqi said the relocation process was a quick one. After shutting down its Third Street location, the restaurant moved its equipment into storage for a month while it worked to renovate the Noble Street location.
It’s the only Interior restaurant for the Anchorage-based pizza chain, which has 10 locations in Alaska.
Most other businesses along the street — Award Makers, Alaska Monitoring & Drug Testing and Novus Auto Glass — have moved to new locations in Fairbanks. A few others, including a hair salon and a children’s clothes consignment store, don’t appear to have reopened.
Bailey said the negotiations with Holiday are complicated by the property that DOT is seeking. The project only requires the area in front of the store, where the gas pumps are located, and not the spot where the building is located.
“There’s not a determination yet on what to do,” Bailey said.
A second phase of the road-widening project will focus on the section of Third Street between the Steese Expressway and Hamilton Avenue. Bailey said several properties in that area will need to be acquired — including the current locations for Helmbrecht Dental and Trademark Design — but those negotiations haven’t begun yet.
Contact staff writer Jeff Richardson at 459-7518. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMbusiness.