A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

City proposes a use for former RR land

Written January 21st, 2022 by Hasso Hering

The vacant city-owned lot at Edgewater Village looked like this in May 2020.

More housing. That’s what may be in store for a vacant property the city of Albany owns along the old Oregon Electric Railway track on Water Avenue.

Albany has owned the roughly one-acre site since 2013, when the city got the BNSF railroad to hand it over as part of the price of renewing the railroad’s city franchise to keep using a section of Water Avenue for its track.

I’ve reported on this property before, and you can read the latest story here.

Now, the staff is asking the city council to declare the property surplus and then make it available “for the development of needed housing.”

The question is on the agendas next week, for discussion during the council’s work session Monday afternoon, and for action during the regular session Wednesday night. Both meetings will be virtual, and people can watch online.

The lot is zoned for a variety of uses related to the “waterfront,” including housing up to a density of 10 units per acre.

“One of the most effective and low-cost ways the city can support the development of housing is by making city-owned surplus land available for needed housing,” city planner Anne Catlin wrote in a memo to the council.

If the council agrees, the staff would solicit proposals from developers.

The council also could specify what type of housing it wants there. That might include “long term affordable” dwellings, either rented or owner-occupied, for people with less than average income; or so-called “workforce housing,” whatever that means; or a particular type of housing or a mix of types, including apartments or townhomes, and so forth.

The lot has an address, 205 Madison St. N.E., but the Madison Street railroad crossing has been closed. Access would be via Main or Hill streets, like for the rest of the Edgewater Village development of single-family houses and townhomes. (hh)

6 responses to “City proposes a use for former RR land”

  1. StopTheGrowth says:

    Yep, that’s the new Albany answer. “If it’s open land, let’s build more houses”. The city doesn’t know how to support what we already have. Building MORE must be the answer. I sure hope this ends soon.

  2. Bill Higby says:

    The City of Albany has no idea how to build affordable housing let alone manage it. Construction costs are what they are. If the City of Albany wants to build affordable housing, just try and pass a bond or another tax to pay for it.

  3. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    I’m probably adding to the regrettable history of comments on this site, so here goes nothing:

    If the city decides on “affordable” housing…

    Expect justifiable NIMBYism amongst the folks who shelled out $300-$500K per unit in the CARA subsidized Edgewater Village.

    And is it a good idea to put folks who have difficulty putting food on the table, let alone pay rent/utilities, into brand new housing across from a bar and on a riverfront that will soon get a $20+ million upgrade? Think St. Francis and excluding “workforce” housing from the core downtown area.

    There are better ways and places to get affordable housing on the Albany market quicker, starting with reducing the cost of property ownership by eliminating city regulatory coercion. Getting the city out of the way of private development is a good first step.

    And for goodness sake, don’t do what CARA did with Edgewater and enrich a wealthy developer with millions of unearned income. That tends to get the folks who foot the bill (taxpayers) riled up.

    My unwelcome 2 cents.

  4. Bill Kapaun says:

    Why has the City been sitting on this land for 8 years? How many other non productive parcels does it own? Maybe they should stay out of the real estate market?

  5. John Hartman says:

    Luxury condos for the wealthy. This is what any vibrant community requires. The inevitable trickle-down from lavishness raises all boats, especially yacht owners. Those currently finding themselves in challenging financial condition should simply manifest a comfortable lifestyle. Having done so, the need for affordable housing would vanish – a ghost of more unpleasant times.

  6. Jennifer Stuart says:

    I think the lot would be a good spot for a small park with a play structure of some kind and some picnic tables, since the city allowed so many homes to be built in the surrounding area that do not have any usable outdoor space.


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