In the century since it was built around 1919 or ’20, the structure at 129 W. First Ave. in Albany has been a candy store and various restaurants and bars. Now its long history may be reaching its end. Or not.
The one-story building was the “Espolon” restaurant when it was closed for remodeling in 2016. During that work, in September 2016, part of the front collapsed. The city ordered work stopped, declared the building dangerous and ordered it to be repaired or demolished.
A year later, in November 2017, the owner filed plans to remodel the building based on a handsome design by Varitone Architecture, an Albany firm. In January 2018, the Landmarks Commission approved. But nothing came of it.
In December 2018, the owner of the property, then living in Las Vegas, sold it to the Salem-based Jesus Revival Association for $175,000. According to county assessment records, in the same month the revival group also bought a church building at 1099 Queen Ave. S.W., for $370,000.
Last week I rode by the place on First and noticed a pink posting on the door. It declared the building to be a “derelict structure” and gave the owner until May 7 to respond.
Code Compliance Officer Kris Schendel told me Monday he had posted the notice on April 1 and had not heard from the owner since.
The notice cites a number of structural problems and says they’ve become worse since 2016. Among them: dry rot, cracks around the foundation, and “differential movement” of the wall facing the parking lot.
If the deficiencies are not fixed, the notice says the city may “abate” the situation. Just what that means in this case would have to be decided, Schendel says. If nothing is done, presumably the city could have the structure razed.
You wouldn’t know it from the sorry state of the building now, but it was designed by noted Albany architect Charles Burggraf. Maybe somebody will step up and save the place by dusting off the Varitone remodeling plans and actually carrying them out. (hh)