A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

City cites violations at downtown building

Written November 22nd, 2022 by Hasso Hering

This place, at 129 West First Ave., used to be a tavern and later a restaurant and sports bar.

The bike and I were going west on Albany’s First Avenue Tuesday when a white paper notice in the window of a long-vacant building caught my eye.

This address, 129 W. First, has been in the news here before. Years ago it housed taverns, including the Westerner and later the First Round and a sports bar named Espolon. For a brief time it served as temporary headquarters for the American Legion.

In 2016, during an attempted remodeling, the front wall threatened to collapse. The front was shored up and the place was boarded up.

The building is of more than passing interest because even though it looks pretty shabby now, it was designed by Albany architect Charles Burggraf and built more than a century ago, in 1919.

In April 2020, the City of Albany posted the building as a derelict structure. In June that year, the owner applied for a permit to rebuild the exterior in line with plans approved by the Albany Landmarks Commission in 2018.

The permit was approved, but no building was done.

The notice that caught my eye Tuesday was posted on the front window and was dated Oct. 20, 2022. The notice alleged several violations of property maintenance regulations contained in the Albany Municipal Code.

County tax records say that since 2018, the property has been owned by the Jesus Revival Association, with an address in Salem.

Because the building is not used for religious purposes, it is assessed like other private property. According to the online records, 2018 was the last year taxes on the property were paid. The amount was $3,383.

Perhaps the new “Notice of Violation” will cause something to be done with this old building. If not, the municipal code authorizes the city to have buildings repaired or, if necessary, razed. (hh)


The ivy that climbed in the back window of 129 W. First appears to be dead.


The street scene mirrored in the front window includes me taking the photo. A gumball machine is still inside.


The notice in the window details what the city wants to be fixed at 129 W. First.


11 responses to “City cites violations at downtown building”

  1. Gordon L.Shadle says:

    I’m happy to report that Jesus Revival Association received a $15,705 loan through the SBA’s PPL program in Feb 2021.

    Joe Biden has their payroll back covered.


    Now Albany’s CARA needs to step up and give them free money.

    This will prettify an ugly building so religious ceremonies can start and the property taken off the tax roll.

    Government handouts…you gotta love ’em.

    • Jimmy Schultz says:

      Oh please, with your logic perhaps the Eagles, Elks and other tax free organizations with major declines in membership ought to lose tax free status as well?
      Can we set aside the partisanship Mr. G? Many administrations have come and gone since Gary and Carol played at the Westerner.
      LBCC started right across the Street, another handout?
      Downtown looks great!
      Apparently the vision started by Dave Clark is coming to fruition.
      The First Round, Moes in the caboose under the bridge, the Buzz Saw….thanks for the memories HH.
      The building, who knows whats under the foundation….is prime real estate. Albany still underdeveloped along the river and it looks great.
      I think Albany is lovely right down the middle.
      Continuous improvement.
      Younger, more diverse ideas on the Council and I trust this property will get a lot of attention, pro development.
      Oh no! A liberal mayor, progressive and supporter of development.
      Thanks for the memories HH

  2. Hartman says:

    Apparently, Jesus has been unable to revive this tattered structure. Perhaps it is time to call-in Lepman Properties

  3. Katherine says:

    It should now be able to be purchased for back taxes.

  4. MarK says:

    I sure hope the city doesn’t buy it. With their track record, they buy it for a million dollars and let it degrade further for several years and then sell it for a dollar. They need to STAY OUT of the real estate business.

    • Al Nyman says:

      CARA needs to buy it, try to find somebody to develop it, and when that fails they can demo it so they can continue their record of a negative ROI even when you add in 20 years of tax revenues. The WF building was hilarious as they could have recouped their investment, moved a number of county employees downtown which would have been good for downtown businesses, and looked like they knew what they were doing. Instead, they are going to spend over $200000 to demo it so they have close to $2 million in a vacant lot!

  5. Bill Kapaun says:

    Turn it into a homeless shelter. It’s close to the employment office, city bus & rehab.

  6. Dean says:

    The building was completed in the summer of 1923. From the beginning it was subdivided into a western 2/3 and an eastern 1/3 building. Since 1989 the eastern 1/3 has been an integral part of Albany Civic Theater, but before that it was various businesses including a tire vulcanization shop, auto paint business, various barbershops and real estate agencies, a craft store, a wig shop, and the Book Bin. The eastern 1/3 is in good shape today.

    The western 2/3 started as a farm implement store and later was a Chevrolet dealership before converting in the 1930’s to a pool hall and confectionary shop and ultimately a string of restaurants and bars. The western 2/3 has issues that need to be addressed as discussed in this post.

  7. Kristina Robb says:

    So much history and memories in that spot! I hope it gets the attention that it needs.

  8. Patricia l moye says:

    Worked part time. And combed owners hair and recieved food for my 2 year old. Was The Westerner. Not fair to put shelter there downtown has worked hard to bring a special community to albany. How about a auction house and used resturant and office equipment retail store


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