Last October, the Albany City Council authorized the city staff to negotiate to buy the former Wells Fargo Bank branch at First Avenue and Broadalbin Street. On Friday, the city closed on the purchase for $1.5 million.
Officially, it’s the Albany Revitalization Agency, the urban renewal agency running the Central Albany Revitalization Area, that is purchasing the site. But the agency and the council are the very same seven people, and the ARA is an agency of the city government.
City Manager Peter Troedsson announced the closing in his weekly Friday report to the council. “Staff are now working on a development offering for projects that support mixed use and commercial/retail development on the property to become available in the coming months.”
On county tax records, the property has been shown to have a market value of about $1.1 million. It was built in 1916 by the First National Bank and originally had five floors. The top floors were taken down some time before the 1970s.
In 2011, a “refinement plan” adopted to augment the original CARA urban renewal plan identified the bank property as the “Albany Plaza,” meant to be a gathering place of some kind. But the CARA advisory board, consisting of the council and seven other members, has had no recent discussions, at least in public, about how the now-vacant property might be used, or whether it should be in public ownership or sold to some entity under a development agreement.
The next CARA board meeting is on Feb. 20. Maybe the topic of what to do with the newly acquired property will come up. (hh)