A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Albany plans to sell 3 lots for development

Written September 22nd, 2023 by Hasso Hering

In a photo from April 2020, this is one of the three downtown parking lots the Albany council is proposing to sell to a Eugene developer.

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)

36 responses to “Albany plans to sell 3 lots for development”

  1. Cap B. says:

    Seth Sherry, Albany’s Economic Development Manager, has left his Albany city job and gone to work for the Eugene firm, Obie, who is buying 3 parking lots on Albany’s Water Street!!! What the…?

  2. Chris S says:

    Where are people supposed to park to shop or dine downtown if these lots are sold? Assuming the new waterfront is completed, won’t we need more parking in the area, not less?

  3. Richard Vannice says:

    Wait a minute. Sell three parking lots and put up “mixed use buildings” that would undoubtedly require parking? Brilliant idea! Also Obie would be pay NO PROPERTY TAXES!!!!!! Short sighted! No thought given to where replacement parking would be and no thought to how much that space or construction would cost!

  4. Pat Schlecht says:

    If memory and vision serves me right, always seemed that most of those 3 parking areas were marked, “Reserved, etc., etc. “ and rarely anyone parked in any of the spaces as signage seemed to deny any use by public looking to park.

    • Cap B. says:

      You’re right. Every downtown parking lot is “reserved or rental parking” except for the lot the north side of Ellsworth Bridge and the lot between 2nd and 3rd by Two Rivers’ building. I know this from driving by; I only go to the Post Office and the old Sr. Center.
      Oh, I forgot a “lot” …the one on the river side of Water Street behind the Sr. Center is open to parking. (Yes, I, myself, have also “forgotten a lot” over the years.)

    • Downtown business owner says:

      Existing Downtown business will suffer with no parking for employees, then there will be no businesses and no customers .

  5. Steven Smith says:

    Not the end of the world! Proposed development would be zoned to require adequate parking. Let’s wait and see what they have in mind before seeing doomsday. I, for one would like to see some development drawing attention to the river and supporting the investment we are making there now.

  6. Rick says:

    I already never go “downtown” for anything due to lack of parking.

    • Hj.anony1 says:

      Fine. Stay away. I never find a problem parking. Aside from parking gymnastics backing into said places. LOL.

  7. Bill Kapaun says:

    “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.”

    Is it just those three properties or ANY properties OBIE buys on Water Ave? They could “conceivably” buy up the entire street.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      “They could “conceivably” buy up the entire street.”

      Considering what they’ve done in Eugene, that could be a very good thing for Albany IMO…

      • Bill Kapaun says:

        Why couldn’t you simply answer my question instead of confirming that you’ve helped lead Albany into a hellhole of bad streets and real estate transactions?

        • KinderParkNeighbor says:

          I’m still waiting for an explanation as to why there are still homeless people living (and screaming) in Kinder Park and along the Periwinkle Bike Path. (In Ray’s ward.) I still hear people screaming and getting mugged almost every night. Someone, not the city, cleaned up one giant pile of trash and two people were told to not pitch a tent there. That’s the only thing that’s changed in MONTHS. Once or twice a week, a police car drives through at 3am and a dozen people just hide in the stream until they pass by. Real effective there, APD, city council.

        • Ray Kopczynski says:

          I answered it in spades Bill – you just don’t like the answer…

  8. CHEZZ says:

    Obie has proved their worth in Eugene with 5th Street Market, Inn At The Fifth, The Howard, while providing parking for these venues. Go take a look! Lunch at Marche’!

  9. Jeff B. Senders says:

    It could be the perfect scheme: Downtown will now need a parking structure, and Lepman get his wish to build an apartment complex with taxpayers paying for the parking structure as they required.

  10. Patty Tucker says:

    I think that a permanent tax exemption is a bad idea!. I can see a short term, say 5 years time period. Where in the world are you going to find more parking? Just yesterday I had to drive around a couple of blocks looking for parking. Too short sighted of a plan.

  11. Anony Mouse (they-them) says:

    I hope Albany joins other progressive cities and imposes a ban on cars in the downtown area.

    Walking, riding bikes, and taking government provided free busses are the answer.

    And did I mention it will help reduce human caused global warming? No more choking on the poison from internal combustion engines.

    City government serves the common good. It is our duty to march to their tune without question.

  12. Anon says:

    Wondering how the city of Albany has the authority to grant a permanent tax exemption.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Who says it’s permanent? It is some sort of program the details of which have not been made clear. The city staff is telling the council in a memo: “City will continue progress on adopting a multi-unit property tax exemption (MUPTE) program. This program could apply citywide but would also apply to this and potentially other developments downtown.”

      • Cap B. says:

        Well, Hasso, you should have told us in your blog article that the property tax exemption is being worked out. What you said was that a property tax exemption program would be adopted that would cover any future Obie developments on Water Avenue. That sounds like they (the city) had already finalized what their property tax exemption program is.

        (Oh, I’m Cap B. That’s it. To heck with pronouns.)

      • Bill Kapaun says:

        Does this tax break only include these 3 properties for a “few years”, or the entirety of 1st Avenue for perpetuity? People simply want to know ACTUAL details.

        The whole point of CARA was to improve properties so they would generate tax revenue. Since CARA is supposedly ending, the GOOD OLD BOYS CLUB MAYOR/COUNCIL is going to do the opposite and NOT CHARGE TAXES to their favored clients. Again the rest of us have to cover the REVENUE NOT GENERATED.

        BTW- Doesn’t one of these properties contain the EV charging station that the CITY installed that apparently has yet to work. What has that cost us?

        • Ray Kopczynski says:

          Since Hasso no longer allows links, read his comment above – slowly. He tells you exactly what the program will be a “MUPTE.” Look it up on the web…

  13. chris j says:

    Mean while they offer the elderly tax deferment on homes (which the elderly have worked to purchase) and take a big chunk of the profit when the property is sold. When the older people need to go to a care facility this limits the amount that can be used to pay for it. When medicaid kicks in due to lack of funds they get substandard care. I am not impressed by state laws that take advantage of the elderly and give tax relief to those who can well afford it. Then use those tax funds to take care of the hoards of homeless that have never worked and have lived off the system their entire lives. People who make money off these investments should pay what everyone else does and more than the elderly.

  14. Downtown business owner says:

    What to some people appears to be a empty parking lot with reserved parking those reserved parking spaces are rented by employees Who work downtown. There will be nowhere for anybody to park when they work downtown. The front half of that is for customer parking, those other spaces that are being taken away from water Street are also rented by employees who work downtown, and those spaces will be taken away with the waterfront project. Employees will be then forced to rent spots on the street which will take away from customers parking. Therefore that will take away from businesses being downtown also..
    The urban development project can go a little bit too far. It’s going to squeeze the life out of downtown then it will be empty.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      This project will get no money from the urban renewal project. I believe it will happen because of what the urban renewal project has accomplished by intent & design.

      • Anon says:

        What the project will get is a 10 year property tax exemption, without other taxing districts having any say in the matter?

        • Ray Kopczynski says:

          The parking lots (the underlying land) aren’t paying taxes now because they are City property. So, if they stayed parking lots, they wouldn’t generate any property taxes in the future either, How would those other districts be affected?

          • Anon says:

            I take it the answer to the question is “Yes”?

          • Ray Kopczynski says:

            That’s my understanding at this point. More info will be provided at the meeting…

          • Bill Kapaun says:

            I presume the City is receiving revenue from parking? Properly managed, that could exceed property tax revenue.Of course proper management will never happen while under control of this Mayor/City Council.

          • Ray Kopczynski says:

            1. Yes
            2. No it won’t
            3. Warts & all, I’ll take our elected officials any day over folks who can’t be bothered to get into the arena…

  15. DK says:

    The parking lot between the bridges is currently planned to be renovated as part of the waterfront project. Does anyone know if that will continue considering this news?

  16. Sherri says:

    A permanent tax exemption ? Really ? Good Grief… I can see a set time limit on the exemption while it is under construction but not permanently. The Obie Company is worth millions ! So the rich get richer and the small business owner that owns his own shop pays property taxes… sad..


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