Albany city officials have been preparing to sell three downtown parking lots on Water Avenue to Obie Companies Inc., of Eugene, with the goal of develping them with mixed-use buildings.
The proposal has been in the works for about a year as the city council held executive sessions closed to the public to discuss the plan and authorize the city staff to pursue a deal with Obie.
The plan became public with the publication on Thursday of the agenda for the council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 27.
The agenda includes a public hearing on the potential sale of the three city-owned parking lots, as well as an outline of the deal.
Under the proposed agreement, Obie would pay the city $25,000 when an option agreement is signed, and the council would adopt a property tax exemption program that would cover any future Obie developments on Water Avenue.
Once the exemption program is in place, Obie would have 18 months to exercise an option to buy one, two, or all three of the parcels. The price for all three would be $1,710,000.
City officials and Obie would work together and with the Downtown Association on ways to make up for the loss of parking spaces.
Before the sale takes place, the city and Obie would negotiate a development agreement for the property being sold.
The three parking lots in the deal are located behind the former J.C. Penney Building (about 70 spaces), between the Eagles lodge and the Ellsworth Street Bridge (about 30 spaces), and between the Ellsworth and Lyon Street bridges (about 60 spaces).
In a memo to the council, economic development manager Sophie Adams made the point that development like this has been the main goal of urban renewal in central Albany.
The CARA urban renewal program has been going on for 22 years and now is finishing up with the $20 million project to refurbish Monteith Riverpark, a section of Water Avenue, and several railroad crossings along Water.
The council has been told that it was the riverfront project that sparked the interest in Albany of the Obie organization, which has built successful mixed-use projects in Eugene such as the Fifth Street Public Market.
Seth Sherry, then the city’s economic development manager, first told the council about Obie’s interest. He has since left his city job and gone to work for Obie. (hh)