» CARA gets request for $336,000


A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

CARA gets request for $336,000

Written March 14th, 2014 by Hasso Hering


The Fortmiller Building at 420 Third Ave. S.W.

The Fortmiller Building at 420 Third Ave. S.W.

On March 4 the advisory board of the Central Albany Revitalization Area agreed it would consider a request for financial aid to save an old building at 420 Third Ave. S.W. and turn it into two offices and nine apartments. Now it has learned the size of the request: $336,000.

Details of the proposal by Scott and Spencer Lepman were included with the agenda issued Friday for the CARA board meeting scheduled at 5:15 Wednesday, March 19. The brothers are asking CARA for the $336,000 in the form of a forgivable loan. They estimate their project would cost $1,629,000. They would get a bank loan of $926,000 and contribute $367,000 of their own. If they complete the project as agreed, their CARA loan would become a grant.

Their plan is to turn the old Fortmiller Building, constructed in 1930 and now run down and almost vacant, into two offices and nine apartments, and to build four townhouses, each with an office and a garage, on a lot next door now used for parking. They hope to buy a strip 8 feet wide from the city on the side of the adjacent Carnegie Library to use for parking.

Kate Porsche, urban renewal and economic development director, wrote a staff report praising the project. “Staff, planners, and consultants have long contended that one of the keys to the success and economic viability of our downtown is housing and people living in the downtown core,” Porsche wrote. “Creating a critical mass of residents will drive business as well as nightlife and activity in the core of the city. (The Lepman) project is another step in this direction.”

This is not the only request for money on Wednesday’s agenda. Also on tap are requests under CARA’s “new storefront” program by:

— Oscar and Tamalynne Hult for $10,000 toward the $97,000 they estimate it will take to open a men’s wear shop, “The Natty Dresser,” in a vacant storefront of the Masonic Building on First Avenue.

— Robert Magid for $7,760 to pay half the $15,520 it will cost him to put new awnings on Two Rivers Market.

— Seth Fortier for $10,000 toward the estimated cost of $159,470 to remodel the exterior of Fortier Chiropractic Healthcare, 220 Fifth Ave. S.W.

The CARA board meets in the council chambers at City Hall. (hh)


3 responses to “CARA gets request for $336,000”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    The Burright/Morse committee has initiated a discussion about the possibility of using CARA money to fund the public safety buildings. The committee agreed to further deliberate on this issue at future meetings.

    Given the committee’s active deliberation, CARA should call a timeout and formally suspend all decision making in regards to spending.

    The timeout should last until the Burright/Morse committee has formulated and delivered their final recommendations to the city council on how the police and fire facilities should be paid for.

    The objective is achieve coordination across the Burright/Morse committee and the CARA board. A timeout will avoid sending a confusing message to Albany residents on the spending priorities of the city.

  2. Bill Kapaun says:

    How many fixed income people could $336,000 help.
    Many people can’t afford needed roof repairs/painting etc. that could help keep their homes from turning into run down “dumps”?
    It seems to me, money would be much better spent preventing “blight” than trying to “repair” it. $3,000 a house could fix 112 HOMES!

  3. Bob Woods says:

    CARA should not call a time out! The time to consider plans of a committee that may or may not ever see the light of day is when they become real. Only then can they be properly and appropriately measured against other options. Right now they are just the desires of a couple of community members.

    News has just come in that shows that the employment and economy of Linn County is finally growing. Now, when private investors are willing to put their own money on the line, is the time to support the ongoing economic expansion of Albany.

    “Strike when the fire’s hot! is a phrase we all know. Now is the time to move forward, not a time to cower in fear.


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