The future of Ketchikan’s downtown cruise dock might include a partnership with private industry.

The Ketchikan City Council will talk Thursday about options to fund a major port renovation. That discussion includes a presentation from Luis Ajamil from the consulting firm Bermello, Ajamil and Partners.

A March summary outlines the firm’s plan for the project. The first step was to determine a realistic cost for renovating the port. The city has determined that such a renovation is needed to accommodate mega cruise ships that are starting to arrive in Alaska. Those larger ships are expected to replace at least some of the current ships that come through the Inside Passage.

The cost of renovating both Berths 1 and 2 was significantly higher than anticipated. The council chose last summer to postpone the project. The estimated price had jumped from $40 million to $100 million.

The project was to be funded through bonds. The debt would be paid for through cruise ship fees.

Bermello, Ajamil and Partners worked with a cost estimator to develop a cost estimate for the project as designed. The firm also looked at ways to reduce costs in that design. Thursday’s presentation will provide that information to the council.  

The consulting firm also looked at what kind of passenger fees would be required to pay for project bond debt, as well as potential private investment. The latter could include partnering with an entity to pay for some or all of the project in exchange for some level of management control.

The city also could turn over operations of the entire port to a private entity, and that private business would be responsible for all investments in the port.  

Potential private entities include cruise lines, and companies that specialize in port operations. Bermello, Ajamil and Partners will move forward in whatever direction the council chooses.

Thursday’s council meeting starts at 7 p.m. in City Council chambers at City Hall. Public comment will be heard at the start of the meeting.