On March 4 the advisory board of the Central Albany Revitalization Area agreed it would consider a request for financial aid to save an old building at 420 Third Ave. S.W. and turn it into two offices and nine apartments. Now it has learned the size of the request: $336,000.
Details of the proposal by Scott and Spencer Lepman were included with the agenda issued Friday for the CARA board meeting scheduled at 5:15 Wednesday, March 19. The brothers are asking CARA for the $336,000 in the form of a forgivable loan. They estimate their project would cost $1,629,000. They would get a bank loan of $926,000 and contribute $367,000 of their own. If they complete the project as agreed, their CARA loan would become a grant.
Their plan is to turn the old Fortmiller Building, constructed in 1930 and now run down and almost vacant, into two offices and nine apartments, and to build four townhouses, each with an office and a garage, on a lot next door now used for parking. They hope to buy a strip 8 feet wide from the city on the side of the adjacent Carnegie Library to use for parking.
Kate Porsche, urban renewal and economic development director, wrote a staff report praising the project. "Staff, planners, and consultants have long contended that one of the keys to the success and economic viability of our downtown is housing and people living in the downtown core," Porsche wrote. "Creating a critical mass of residents will drive business as well as nightlife and activity in the core of the city. (The Lepman) project is another step in this direction."
This is not the only request for money on Wednesday's agenda. Also on tap are requests under CARA's "new storefront" program by:
-- Oscar and Tamalynne Hult for $10,000 toward the $97,000 they estimate it will take to open a men's wear shop, "The Natty Dresser," in a vacant storefront of the Masonic Building on First Avenue.
-- Robert Magid for $7,760 to pay half the $15,520 it will cost him to put new awnings on Two Rivers Market.
-- Seth Fortier for $10,000 toward the estimated cost of $159,470 to remodel the exterior of Fortier Chiropractic Healthcare, 220 Fifth Ave. S.W.
The CARA board meets in the council chambers at City Hall. (hh)