Shortage of industrial store space results in overinflated prices, restraints on growth
A lack of available buildings fueling Longyearbyen’s housing crisis is also being felt by businesses in dire need of storage space, with LNS Spitsbergen admitting it’s overpaying by spending five million kroner for 300-square-meter space in a steel building with no insulation or district heating. “The situation is very crowded,” said Frank Jakobsen, the company’s administrative director. “There are almost no plots available. We were planning to expand one of our existing spaces westwards, but it is hampered by avalanche risk so that we could not build. Then the only solution was to buy this hall when it came onto the market.” Other potential bidders were forced to drop out because of the inflated price, including Svalbard Brewery founder Robert Johansen who said his business urgently needs more storage space after doubling its production during the past year. He paid half the per-square-meter rate as LNS did for its new space when the brewery opened. “Today Longyearbyen is very ill-adapted to make it possible for the business community to grow,” he said. City officials are planning to expand industrial space near the old coal pier on the eastern edge of town as part of a comprehensive plan during the next decade.
Spitsbergen Marathon expected to top 500 participants for first time
A record-size field is expected for this year’s Spitsbergen Marthon on Saturday, with more than 500 participants from 25 countries slated to run the full-length, half-length and one mile (for children) courses. “Since I started working with the Spitsbergen Marathon in 2015, there has been an increase of about 50 participants each year, said Silje M. Hagen, noting there were 446 participants last year. Those participating in the full and half marathons will also be following a first-ever course. “This is partly due to avalanche risk and that the bridge over Melkeveien is now gone,” Hagen said. “Instead of running around Huset this year’s trail goes down through the town and somewhat further into Adventdalen.” Registration for race is open until Friday at spitsbergenmarathon.no.
New pole lift attracts 873 skiers during first season
Roughly 100 people a week used a new pole lift that opened on a hillside above the center of Longyearbyen between Feb. 28 and May 7. The lift staffed by volunteers drew a total of 873 people, nearly all of them youths, during afternoon, evening and weekend sessions. City officials said they are hoping for a higher number next year since the lift’s opening was delayed until the middle of the season due to permitting issues. It is the first time a lift has been open in three years after one across the street from Longyearbyen School was shut down due to concerns about the stability of ageing mining trestles on the slope.