The former St.Francis Hotel at First Avenue and Ferry Street in Albany might end up with an addition, a crowning feature you might say. Drawings prepared by Albany architect Don Johnson for the renovation of the four-story structure show a penthouse on the roof.
The drawings suggest the penthouse will have a patio, but they don’t say what it’s for. An outdoor dining area? A garden for the residents? I’ll try to find out next week when I hope to take a look at the plans submitted to the city of Albany planning division. (See the explanation below.)
Drawings of two sides of the hotel building were attached to a public notice the city issued July 13. The notice announced that the Albany Landmarks Commission will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 3, at City Hall.
The hearing will be to review exterior alterations and the use of substitute materials on the St. Francis and adjacent Rhodes Block, all the same property on the same tax lot.
Scott Lepman is proposing to renovate the upper floors of the buildings for residential use. Sable Drive LLC, one of the Lepman companies, bought the property for $650,000 in March from Pride Printing in a deal arranged by CARA, the downtown urban renewal program.
With help from CARA, Lepman plans to renovate not just the St. Francis but also the former post office and city hall at Second Avenue and Broadalbin Street, sometimes called the Federal Building. The CARA aid amounts to $1.5 million over 10 years in the form of interest subsidies on the private loans taken out for the projects.
Lepman has said he wants to move his offices to the Federal Building, then tear down his present quarters, the former Sears warehouse at Ferry and Water Avenue. There he wants to build a combination hotel and apartment block if the city will build a parking garage nearby.
On Aug. 3, the Landmarks board also will review exterior alterations and the use of substitute materials on the Federal Building.
While both the St. Francis and the old post office are well over a century old, records differ on their respective years of construction.
The St. Francis was built in 1915 according to the Linn County tax database, and in 1907 according to Albany’s inventory of historic properties.
The Federal Building was built in 1913 according to the county and in 1914 according to the city.
Doesn’t really matter now, does it? The main thing is that these downtown landmarks, mostly vacant for a long time, are going to get fixed up so they can be used once again. (hh)
Candace Ribera, development coordinator for the Scott Lepman Company, explained the penthouse: “There is no living space on the roof. The improvement provides for an exercise room and a lounge area for tenants of the building. In addition, an outside area is also being provided.”