Scott Lepman doesn’t have an estimate of how long it will take to refurbish the old St. Francis Hotel at Ferry Street and First Avenue in downtown Albany. But he, his brother Spencer and their construction crew are about to start.
They’ve already removed asbestos from the 107-year-old building. Next, they’ll start demolishing enough of the inside walls to get a look at where and how to install new wiring and plumbing and such.
All this demo work is planned to start in a few weeks, after the crew completes the last details on the Opera House apartments at 222 S.E. First, on which the Lepmans have been working since about 2016.
One of the Lepman companies, Sable Drive LLC, bought the St. Francis building in a transaction helped along by the Albany Revitalization Agency. The plan is to retore the four-story building for commercial use on the ground floor and residences on the upper stories.
On Friday, members of the State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation walked through the vacant rooms on the ground floor, for 60 years or so the home of Pride Printing Co., and climbed up a dark staircase to inspect some of the long abandoned hotel rooms on the second floor.
The state committee was in the area because it was to meet in Corvallis for one of its regular sessions. Among the agenda items: Nominating the Riverside Community Hall in Linn County for a listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
For the St. Francis, the Lepman group has prepared a detailed preservation plan.
Among countless other details, the plan is to reinforce the building so it won’t collapse in an earthquake. Other items include refinishing the wooden floors and restoring or repairing all the single-pane windows and their wood frames and sashes.
Lepman told me that during construction they’ll set up the ground floor as a work space for repairing the other parts of the building, including the windows.
The preservation plan shows boxes to be checked for progress reports after three, six, and nine years. This will take a while, in other words, so don’t expect this job to be finished soon. (hh)