A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

A sign appears of downtown building’s past

Written July 14th, 2021 by Hasso Hering

Groceries? You could buy them at this corner of Lyon and Third more than 100 years ago.

A century-old sign of Albany history saw the light of day again when workers took the stucco off the brick wall of the old King Griff Building on the northeast corner of Third Avenue and Lyon Street.

The historic building houses the headquarters of CHANCE, the regional counseling and addiction recovery organization, and a contractor, Pyburn & Sons Inc., is restoring and rebuilding the exterior to closely resemble the place when it opened in 1910.

It was built by Griff King to house his grocery store, which for some reason he named by reversing the order of his first and last names. Through the decades the building had several owners and uses, and it’s not evident whether the writing on the wall uncovered now refers to the original store or a later one.

In the 1970s the building was remodeled for a pizza business, which later became Pizza King. CHANCE acquired the property after Pizza King closed.

The exterior restoration is being done with the help of CARA, the downtown urban renewal district, which gave the nonprofit a $75,000 forgivable loan.

When the CARA board approved the help in December 2020, it said the loan would be forgiven — become a grant — if he work was completed by June 30. But according to Sophie Dykast, the economic development coordinator working with CARA, the loan contract was not executed until April, so CHANCE has until October to get the restoration done.

Old Griff King appears to have been a versatile guy who once served briefly as Albany police chief, according to a commenter under a story that appeared here a year ago.

Will the various “grocery” letterings remain visible as a reminder of Albany’s past? I hope so, but maybe not. Pyburn’s list of jobs on the original CARA application said the brick walls would be sealed and painted once the stucco was gone. (hh)

Postscript: CHANCE Executive director Jeff Blackford responded: “We have not been able to tell exactly what the sign reads.  I am hoping we will save the sign, but that is up to my board. I have my fingers crossed.”

10 responses to “A sign appears of downtown building’s past”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Interesting history tidbits.

    But let’s talk turkey. According to CARA’s 2019-2020 report “…during the Agency’s lifespan, overlapping taxing districts “forego” a portion of their permanent rate.”

    Remind me again – the permanent tax rates for the “overlapping taxing districts” were approved by voters. Is it moral for CARA to skim revenues generated by the districts’ permanent rate without voter approval?

    For example, in 2019-2020 the City of Albany will “forgo” over $1,500,000 in property tax revenue. That is general fund money (for essential stuff like police, fire, and libraries). If put before voters, would they bless $1,500,000 for CARA “investments”?

    I do recall a voter-approved initiative some years ago that changed the City Charter to require every future “CARA” get voter approval.

    Finally, remind me again – CARA uses tax increment financing to service its debts. What is the expected tax increment (+$) for this “investment” in property owned by a non-profit?

    Is it negative, given the property was tax producing before it became non-tax producing?

    Does this make the project’s payback period infinity? Who in their right mind would make this type of “investment”?

    Should CARA be making “investments” that won’t return a single dime to the overlapping taxing districts?

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Should have looked it up. The property is on the tax rolls as “assessable” and in fact is paying property taxes.

      • Gordon L. Shadle says:

        Huh? Check again. Here is what the tax records show.

        238 SE 3rd Ave, Albany, OR 97321
        Owner: CHANCE
        Tax Status: NONASSESSABLE
        ACCOUNT NO. 82087 Tax Due: $0


        • Jeff Blackford says:

          Gorden, CHANCE is tax-exempt on the 238 3rd building (The Church Building) We are currently doing a review of how to best use the property for our programs. We have occupied and had groups during the time we are in the new building at 231 Lyon Street.

          We did not file tax-exempt at 231 Lyon street, the building we got the CARA loan at. We are paying taxes at that building. We hope to be part of the downtown solution and nad make Albany a better place for everyone. Please look up the correct address for the building in question.

          • Gordon L. Shadle says:

            Thanks to Jeff and Rich for the clarification.

            I hope CHANCE fulfills their promise and never applies for a tax exemption on the 231 building.

            Exemptions on property that receive public money for urban renewal run contrary to CARA’s tax increment financing scheme.

      • Gordon L. Shadle says:

        One clarification – as a nonprofit CHANCE occupied 238 3rd Ave. and was granted a property tax exemption under ORS 307. They still list this property as their mailing address.

        In order to qualify for the exemption in their restored building at 231 SE Lyon St. the property must be “actively occupied and used exclusively in a way that furthers its purpose.”

        We can safely assume CHANCE, a nonprofit, will apply for and receive another property tax exemption when the restoration is complete.

        • Rich Kellum says:

          Gordon, as I recall, in order to get the loan/gift they promised not to ask for a tax exemption… but I do not know if that made it into the paperwork.

  2. CHEZZ says:

    Hope they can keep the brick and the great historical grocery sign.

  3. russell Tripp says:

    I remember it as HOOD”S GROCERY for many years.

    • Jennifer Stuart says:

      Oh, I think I see what could be HOOD’S GROCERY over another GROCERIES ghost sign! It would be lovely to preserve some of that, or at least document it well for the Albany Museum.


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