Edgwater Village: The next chapter

George Diamond, developer of Edgewater Village, before the CARA board Wednesday.

George Diamond, developer of Edgewater Village, before the CARA board Wednesday.

Another chapter in the long story of Edgewater Village, the planned multimillion-dollar housing development on Albany's riverfront: The city's agreement on the project will be modified, and the developer now hopes to start construction of the first house in September.

Planning for this project has been in the works since 2007, when the Albany's CARA urban renewal agency approved a $2.4 million aid package for what was envisioned as a six-acre complex of 146 townhouses. The collapse of the housing bubble and other problems caused delays and changes in the plans, which now call for 60 single-family houses on individual lots, the first ones measuring about 1,500 square feet and selling for around $230,000.

On Wednesday the CARA advisory board approved changes in the city's public-private partnership with Edgewater Village LLC, which had been having trouble under the previous agreement getting bank financing for what is being described as a $17 million development. The new deal subordinates the developer's city debt to any bank loans, calls for a homeowner association while dropping the requirement, unenforceable in any case, that homes be owner-occupied, specifies that the $2.4 million loan will be forgiven at the rate of $40,000 per lot completed with a house, and extends all the deadlines in the agreement by 10 months.

George Diamond, of Lake Oswego, the developer, is spending nearly $600,000 of his own money putting in streets, water and sewer lines for the first 19 lots. He told the CARA board Wednesday he hopes to break ground on the first house in September. Once the first 19 are built, Diamond said, railroad crossing protection has to be provided before any more can be done.

Diamond told the board that construction costs went up because of requirements that the houses have sprinkler systems and that contractors pay union wages. But Councilman Bill Coburn said he should have said not "union" but "prevailing" wages, and there's a difference.

Edgewater Village, the biggest of the CARA-supported projects, is intended to generate additional private improvements along and near the riverfront. "In five years you're going to see this whole area turn around," Diamond said.(hh)

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