It’s been about two months since Lowe’s filed for building permits for its planned Albany home improvement and garden center at Ninth Avenue and Oak, and city officials say the company likely will be cleared to start construction any day now.
Under a revised development agreement with the city signed in January, Lowe’s must open the 125,000-square-foot store by the end of 2015 or start paying damages. That gives it eight months, and I was wondering what the holdup was.
“I don’t know that I would characterize it as a ‘holdup,'” City Engineer Jeff Blaine repled on Tuesday. “I think both the Lowe’s development team and city staff are going through our application and review processes as fast as we can. We all recognize the importance of the project…. It shouldn’t be too much longer.”
The question came up again at the city council meeting Wednesday night, when Councilor Floyd Collins asked about it and Councilor Bill Coburn said Lowe’s had been seeking bids from local contractors. Public Works Director Mark Shepard, who will leave for his new job as Corvallis city manager at the end of the month, got back to council members on Thursday after checking with the building department:
“Lowe’s is currently planning to pull all their permits at once,” Shepard wrote. “Lowe’s first round of submittals has been reviewed and corrections were sent to them. Earlier this week Lowe’s submitted corrected plans and they are now being reviewed. If Lowe’s has addressed all the issues identified in their first review they should be able to pull their permits as soon as next week… .”
The city of Albany has paid almost $4.5 million of the $5.2 million in Oak Street improvements needed for the Lowe’s project, including punching Oak through to Pacific, and the company will be assessed $750,141. Lowe’s has agreed to pay its assessment in a lump sum rather than over time.
The company is under pressure to get the store ready to open by Dec. 31. If it doesn’t make it, it will owe the city $20,000 on the first business day of January 2016 plus $1,000 a day after that until the store opens. In his April 7 reply to me, Blaine added this: “We will be doing everything we can to help them be successful in meeting their deadlines.” (hh)