HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Another try for ‘The Banks’ apartments

Written October 11th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

The corner of Linn Avenue and Chicago Street on Sunday. The Banks apartments would be built to the left and behind these streets.

Despite neighborhood opposition, developers of “The Banks” apartments are not giving up. They are initiating a new land-use application for a complex of 120 units, the same plan rejected by the Albany Planning Commission just a few weeks ago.

The Albany Development Code requires developers of apartments next to single-family zones to hold a neighborhood meeting before filing for approval of a site plan. The Keizer planning firm representing Salem-based Willamette River View Holdings, the developers, has scheduled such a meeting, to be held online via Zoom, Tuesday night. The firm sent invitations to property owners within 1,000 feet of the 6.7-acre site of their project, on the Willamette River across Geary Street from Bowman Park.

Even though there was strong opposition from the quiet neighborhood of modest and mostly older homes south of the site, the planning commission approved a site plan and related permits for 105 units of The Banks in July 2019.

Then the developers found that their plan was no longer feasible, and they filed for a modification of their approved plan to change the layout and increase the number of units to 120. The city planning staff approved the change, but the neighbors appealed, and on Aug. 31 the planning commission rejected the request. The commission agreed with the opposing neighbors that the changes did not qualify as a modification but amounted to a new plan.

So now, River View Holdings is pushing the 120-unit plan as a new application rather than a modification. The site plan shows eight three-story buildings with a total of 120 units plus a clubhouse and 218 parking stalls.

Since the city planning staff has already concluded that the plan for 120 units meets the requirements of the development code, the city will have little choice but to approve the application once it filed.

The problem the neighbors face is the zoning of the land where the apartments are planned. It is zoned RM or “medium-density residential,” allowing up to 25 dwellings per acre.

Dala Rouse is a longtime homeowner in the neighborhood and a planning commissioner. She recalls that in about 2003,  the city intended to make the entire neighborhood RM. The people living there fought that and won, but for some reason the former Permawood industrial site ended up as RM.

When you look at it now, it’s hard to see apartment blocks as the best use of that partially wooded land near the river and the neighborhood to the south. But who knows what motivated the planners and decision makers 17 years ago?(hh)



6 responses to “Another try for ‘The Banks’ apartments”

  1. Janet Suyama says:

    That area cannot handle that much traffic. 218 more cars in that part of town with all the trains is a safety hazard. Albany needs to stand up to this. This will hurt our community.

    • Albany YIMBY says:

      The right for people to have homes is more important than the non-existant right to parking on the street or driving without traffic.

  2. James Engel says:

    What does the City council care….!? None of them live “down there” & wouldn’t be affected by the increased traffic. They’re just counting the pieces of silver for selling out the riverfront for future taxes. Thos apts need to be put across the street from the Mayors house & see how she’d like it!

  3. Albany YIMBY says:

    Another example on why it is completely non-sense that home-owners have any say in these kinds of projects. They don’t have any incentive to be in favor of them. They have their cake, why are the going to allow more people to enjoy it?

    And NIMBYs thrive in those hearings complaining about “apartment dwellers”, parking and traffic the same way the would have done it about African-Americans going to their neighborhoods 60 years ago.

    Some notes:

    1) Please, read “The Color of Law”

    2) Just because it is desirable to have single-family homes doesn’t mean we should make it a requirement. Not everyone wants or can afford one.

    3) There is no such thing as the right to store your car for free on the street or to drive without traffic. Cities must be designed for the people and not for cars.

    4) Your property value is not going to go down just because of having apartments nearby. In any case it is going to help having more people appropriately housed, which is good for Albany in general and its businesses in particular.

  4. Deborah Lynne says:

    I guess I’m always amazed that people who purchased their property for a certain quality of life and have paid their taxes, sometimes for decades, are portrayed as selfish if they oppose development. They should be asked about important changes proposed for their neighborhoods and they should be able to prevent radical changes to the character of their neighborhoods. And why is zoning so immutable? Shouldn’t it match the character/zoning of the surrounding neighborhoods?

 

 
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