A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

CARA faces requests for more projects

Written October 15th, 2021 by Hasso Hering

The Bikman Building and its tarp-covered penthouse on Oct. 3. CARA has been asked to help with remodeling the building.

Albany’s urban renewal board faces this question: Whether to reopen its general program of loans and grants for remodeling and other projects, which it had closed down in favor of just three big items.

This came up in September when the CARA advisory board heard of two new requests. One was for help with the costs of remodeling the Bikman Building at First and Ellsworth. The other was from the group that hopes to turn the former Cumberland church into an events center after it is moved (on Sunday presumably) from Main and Santiam to a new site at Santiam and Pine.

Previously, the board and the council, which governs the CARA district, had agreed to take no more applications in order to concentrate most of its remaining borrowing authority of roughly $20 million on three big ventures: redeveloping the Willamette riverfront and helping developers revive the former St. Francis Hotel and the former Wells Fargo branch on First Avenue.

Last month the board failed to pass a motion to stick with the most recent plan, but it agreed to consider the question again at its next meeting. That is coming up Wednesday. The virtual meeting starts at 5:15. Instructions to listen and watch are in the agenda available here.

Sid Stevens, owner of the Bikman Building, in September sent CARA board members an email for consideration under “business from the public.” He was investigating a residential remodeling of the second story with nine units and the penthouse on the roof and had received a preliminary estimate of $1.5-1.6 million for the job.

“This is the only opportunity I have for funding to help fulfill my dream (to) remodel my building,” Stevens wrote. “If you can assure me that you are willing to help, I will spend the money and time to get the information I will need to start this project.”

He may get his answer after the CARA board discussion Wednesday night. (hh)

Drivers have this view of the Bikman Building after they pass the crest of the Ellsworth Street Bridge.

11 responses to “CARA faces requests for more projects”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    This is a crisis. Albany’s financial safety net (called CARA/ARA) needs to step up and help this struggling business/building owner.

    Oh my, just look at that historically inappropriate and blighted penthouse. It’s worse than vinyl windows.

    People deserve a better first impression of downtown Albany as they transit over the bridge.

    Just grant him the $1.6M and wait patiently for the property tax windfall in years to come.

    The “tax increment” on this project would certainly be more than what will be realized from the riverfront project. The riverfront property is owned by the city and non-tax producing.

  2. Floyd Collins says:

    The CARA Board should focus on projects that will add increase the tax increment by funding private sector projects like the request from Stevens, the Wells Fargo and St Francis. Spending the full amount on the Water Ave projects adds zero to long term revenue. Reduce the scope of Water Ave, fund more revenue producers.

  3. Bill Kapaun says:

    Buy tar and fill the cracks in the streets.

    It looks like the building behind the “proposed penthouse” needs a lot more help.

  4. Jim Engel says:

    Like the Cumberland Church deal I’d side with helping Stevens “beautify” his building. Neat penthouse!

    • Rich Kellum says:

      Jim, the Church is doing that without cara funds, more power to THEM, and I will be giving them the 1 dollar that I promised…

  5. Bill Higby says:

    The Bikman building project has a lot more merit than the former Wells Fargo building or the Albany Hotel. Cost to renovate is much less and adds to an already successful building with an owner/occupant.

    • Steven Reynolds says:

      Problem is what do you do with the St. Francis or Wells Fargo? If you pull funding or even scale it back, you’re just going to have rotting junk? St. Francis is really a total junk pile. Also, the church has a good claim for getting help with the windows, especially since they fit CARA objectives almost 100%, then do you help everyone with windows so you’re not singling out a protected class or force everyone to change out unapproved windows?. The CARA meeting coming up on Oct. 20th will be interesting to watch. There’s not going to be any easy decisions, the commission members are going to have their hands full wading through this minefield.

  6. hj.anony1 says:

    Been an eyesore for long time.

    Oh, oh puhleeze, pretty puhleeze help the dirt poor jeweler fix his awkward penthouse….


  7. Abe Cee says:

    If restoration is the real aim, the penthouse should be removed as it is obviously an add on from the original building design. Not to mention an eyesore.


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