A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Albany lists former bank lot for sale

Written May 19th, 2023 by Hasso Hering

On Thursday afternoon, the former Wells Fargo lot downtown looked like this.

The former site of the Wells Fargo Bank in downtown Albany has been put on the market for a listed price of $310,000 and, according to a city official, has attracted quite a bit of interest.

As you may recall, the city council, acting as the Albany urban renewal agency, had bought the property at 300 West First Ave. for $1.5 million in 2019 after Wells Fargo closed its branch there the year before. Hopes of repurposing the building didn’t pan out, and the city hired Laneco Demolition of Portland to raze the structure for about $239,000.

The council’s idea is to sell the vacant lot, not including the adjacent parking lot or former drive-up lane, to someone who commits to constructing an apartment building on it, with commercial space on the ground floor.

The listing of the property with Albany real estate agent Brandon Hanson showed up on the Zillow real estate website 10 days ago. As of this morning, Zillow reported 302 views of the listing.

The decision to list the lot for what appears to be the appraised value seems to have been made at a recent executive meeting, closed to the public, of the Albany Revitalization Agency, comprised of the mayor and six council members.

Before any sale, though, there would be a public process to review a would-be buyer’s proposal for developing the property. And the actual selling price would be negotiated as part of a development agreement between the city and the buyer.

On Zillow, this was described as a “unique development opportunity in downtown Albany across the street from the revitalized Broadalbin Promenade, a block away from Albany’s new Waterfront Project that will host events attracting thousands of visitors.”

At Monday’s public open house on the Waterfront Project, I talked about the listing with Seth Sherry, the city’s economic development manager. He’s the one who told me the listing had attracted a quite a lot of interest.

Meanwhile, on the site itself, the demolition contractor has been filling the excavated basement space with tons of gravel. On Thursday most of the lot looked just about level. The contract calls for the demolition job to be finished by the end of June. (hh)

23 responses to “Albany lists former bank lot for sale”

  1. Sadie Collins says:

    Albany is becoming too crowded now an apartment building adding to more traffic

  2. khs says:

    Something that happens nowadays are combined apartment and store properties, stores being on the bottom floor. As for traffic, yes and no, if apartments and needed stores close by then there’s no need for a car. But it depends if the stores have basic necessities purchase options, instead of Starbucks, Jamba Juice and similar offerings.

    Also, more apartments in downtown makes the Albany downtown more vibrant instead of it dying out and then shopping malls around taking the shopping experience.

    Anyway, this is just speculation as we really don’t know what will be built there ultimately.

    • sonamata says:

      New apartments are effectively verboten in the historic districts. We get huge apartment complexes on our riverfront, they get splashpads. Exclusionary zoning with a “historic” label often results in racial and class segregation, with far fewer middle housing units than the periods they’re supposed to represent. Not surprising that the Monteith neighborhood has the highest incomes in Albany on this side of the bridge. The neighborhood that got the 120-unit apartment complex on the riverfront is one of the lowest income areas in Albany.

  3. Mike says:

    So they paid $1.5mil, razed it for $239k, and are now selling it for $310k? Looks like the lot for sale is about 1/4 of what they bought?

    • MarK says:

      Typical for the real estate experts in our town (the mayor and city council). Don’t expect any ROI either.

    • Wayne says:

      Plus four years of property taxes that weren’t collected once the city owned it.

    • Bob Woods says:

      You forget to mention that the original purchase included a building which, in and of itself, made the property more valuable for appraisal purposes.

      Hopefully, the end result when developed, will be a new building with many downtown residents, that will FAR exceed the cost the City paid, by the additional tax revenue that will be generated over the next century.

      • Bill Kapaun says:

        “You forget to mention that the original purchase included a building which, in and of itself, made the property more valuable for appraisal purposes.”

        Then why did they demolish it? Your logic is backwards.

  4. mike says:

    Hasso, do you know what will happen to the parklet when the parking lot is redeveloped (the listing uses that term)? Also, what’s with what looks like pipes from an organ or whistle at the parklet? I didn’t see signage explaining their presence, and they aren’t in the picture of the location in a 2016 post on your site about the parklet.

  5. Sick and Tired says:

    In response to khs’s comment. This town has had “apartment and store” combos since its infancy. It’s not a new idea. However, with this town’s love of investing in “affordable housing” for the homeless (a.k.a. junkies), beautiful downtown will soon be over populated with the foot traffic of junkies asking every patron they see for a handout until paying patrons decide to quit visiting.

  6. thomas earl cordier says:

    Making a decision in an “executive meeting” closed to the public sure sounds like an ethics violation of public meetings law. I’ll ask the SOS’s office Monday.

    • centrist says:

      Executive session allows for blunt/frank discussion. Likely that you’ll find that reading the result of those discussions into the record during an open session is just fine.

      • thomas earl cordier says:

        Discussions in executive sessions are encouraged. Making decisions by voting in exec. session(not in public view) is a violation.

  7. John Marble says:

    I am certainly no an anti-government radical. In fact, there are all kinds of things I believe we should let governments handle. Mostly, things it is hard for us to do as individuals: police, fire, roads, etc. But it strikes me as a questionable strategy to have a city get involved in strategic real estate investment deals. Perhaps the city should just hire a consultant to take care of things like that and get back to taking care of typical (but boring) city business.

    • Steven Reynolds says:

      I agree John, we have a very competent city manager, I have much admiration for him. I also agree we need to pull back on this one, it has huge mistake written all over it. It’s a central part to all the effort that has been put into the Downtown over the last 20+ years. We’re just about to build a first class destination with the Waterfront, our Downtown is really starting to find itself, this piece is a critical component. Selling this is our equivalent of New York selling part of Central Park or Time Square 100 years ago in order put in low income housing. This is one of those forks in the road.

  8. Resident since 1975 says:

    and in the meantime our city streets are crumbling….. and no I am not giving up driving my cars.

  9. TLH-ALB1 says:

    Buy HI…Sell LOW for a LOSS. The city that manages money poorly…sounds about right…SMH

  10. lisa says:

    LOL wow bought it for so much more than its being sold for, loss, loss, and more loss. Seems the city hands out loss a lot. And as previous poster said, meanwhile the roads are a mess. Utterly ridiculous.

  11. Bill Kapaun says:

    Maybe they were trying to make up for the wasted money on the Cumberland Church fiasco?

    They certainly became more proficient at it!


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