Three old and dilapidated houses, condemned by the city as dangerous, likely will continue to blight the neighborhood at Fourth Avenue and Calapoooia Street for at least the next 10 months.
That’s because the Albany Landmarks Advisory Commission Wednesday voted 4-1 to disapprove a request to demolish the structures, at 331 Calapooia, and 525 and 533 Fourth Ave. S.W.
The decision means the owners, homebuilders Mark and Tina Siegner, have to wait until July 9, 2019, before they can legally raze the houses. That’s a year after they filed their application for permission to demolish them.
Mark said they’ll consider whether to appeal to the city council. In testimony Wednesday, he vigorously — and to my mind convincingly — demonstrated that renovating the houses was not economically feasible.
Landmarks members Keith Kolkow, David Abarr, Jolene Thomson, and Larry Preston voted to deny the Siegners’ application. Bill Ryals, the chairman, cast the only no vote.
Seven people spoke in support of the request, including neighbors who were looking forward to ridding their street of the blighted houses and to the construction, in their place, of new rental housing. Two others spoke against the request.
The year’s demolition delay provided for in the city code is intended to allow alternatives to be explored. Maybe somebody might offer buy and save the houses. But Siegner told me they didn’t buy the property to sell it.
For the background on all this, typing “Siegner” into the search function on this site will take you to the several previous stories.
The Landmarks majority seemed to be sincerely motivated by the need to protect Albany’s historic districts, although a few months ago the city’s renewal district declined to help pay for restoring these three houses. Sitting through the hearing Wednesday, I was struck by the thought that it’s easy to be passionate about a cause if you don’t have to pay to carry it out. (hh)