A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

CARA has pick of 3 offers to buy ex-bank

Written June 14th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

The former Wells Fargo branch downtown as seen from the parking lot on June 14.

Albany’s urban renewal board next week will be asked to choose one of three widely different offers to buy and redevelop the former Wells Fargo bank at Broadalbin Street and First Avenue downtown.

Here are the proposals as outlined in the agenda for the June 19 meeting (at 5:15 p.m. in City Hall) of the CARA advisory board:

Matt Bennett and partners want a 180-day option to buy the property for $1.5 million. Bennett and his wife own the Sybaris restaurant at First and Washington. They’d like to move Sybaris to the remodeled bank, which could also feature new retail space and apartments. Details would be spelled out in a development agreement to be executed once the option is exercised. One possibility, whose practicality has not been confirmed, is to rebuilding the multi-story structure that existed at that corner before the bank chopped off the top floors in the 1970s. The agenda lists this offer as coming from “BGW Partners” but doesn’t identify them.

Marc and Annie Manley, who own and restored the Flinn Block on First, would like an option to buy the parking lot for $600,000 and the chance to acquire the building in return for a $1 million promissory note to be paid off over 30 years. They envision remodeling the former bank branch for three or four restaurants or retail bays, up to eight market-rate apartments, and office space.

Linn County has offered to buy the property, both building and parking lot, for $1.5 million in cash with a 30-day closing. The commissioners want to move the county clerk’s office there, which would allow them to set up security screens at the courthouse without hampering citizens exercising their right to vote. The county’s offer has been revised. It now includes an offer to build 24 apartments “over the parking lot,” according to the CARA agenda. This presumably would return at least part of the property to the tax rolls.

Wells Fargo closed the branch last summer. In February, the Albany Revitalization Agency, which is the city council acting as CARA’s governing agency, bought the building and parking lot for $1.5 million. The city’s goal was to control the property’s redevelopment, seen as a key item in the continued revival of downtown. (hh)



9 responses to “CARA has pick of 3 offers to buy ex-bank”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Shouldn’t CARA obtain proposed demands for CARA money first (before accepting any of the offers)? This is the heart of the development agreement and should be known before committing to sell the property.

    And BGW Partners is registered in Oregon.
    Their principal place of business is: 1355 GOLDFISH FARM ROAD SE

    Isn’t that Coastal Farm & Ranch?

    • Rich Kellum says:

      Gordon, All 3 groups have openly stated that they will not be asking for CARA money…

      • Gordon L. Shadle says:

        It appears the Manley’s are asking CARA for a $1M loan at 1% interest. Is that accurate? Are they not able to get a loan through a private bank?

        • Rich Kellum says:

          true enough, I was talking about grants… at least with loans we eventually get the money back… sorry for the confusion

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    So it appears there are only two proposals that are reasonable.

    Scratch the Manley’s. Why loan $1,000,000 of public money at only 1% when the other two proposals appear to be self-funding? The Manley proposal should be an easy rejection.

    The county’s proposal looks reasonable and I like the terms of sale; however, the Mayor and some on the council have not been shy about their dislike of the commissioners and their politics, so personality conflicts will preclude CARA from accepting a viable county proposal. Sounds petty, but that is the nature of Albany city politics.

    The Bennett/Buzz proposal seems a little fuzzy on details and the terms of sale do not appear to be as good financially as the county proposal. But the Mayor and some on the council love these two guys.

    “You cannot find another family as caring and giving as Janel and Matt Bennett. Every individual who personally knows the Bennett’s absolutely love them, including myself”, said the Mayor in 2016.

    I will be shocked if the sales & development contracts are not awarded to the local cronies.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      Your Iast sentence is a typical comment from a consumate troll & prima facie definition of why your comments are irrelevant…

  3. Robert Chandler says:

    Were only 3 bids given? Just curious to see whom all put in a bid and were not from around Linn County.

  4. Tim Siddiqui says:

    Matt and Janel will provide owner occupied benefit. I have nothing against any other offer.
    Alive and flourishing Down Town is a Charm, not a dollar and cents sum only.


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