A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

City wants more proposals on vacant bank

Written April 17th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

The interior of the former downtown Wells Fargo branch last year, shortly after the bank closed the branch.

Albany city officials have received a couple of competing proposals for what to do with the former Wells Fargo Bank downtown, and they are looking for more.

The CARA advisory board on Wednesday heard proposals from two teams of would-be buyers of the property at First Avenue and Broadalbin Street. Unfortunately, I’m obliged to report no details because in an unusual move, the presentations were made during an executive session closed to the public.

Afterward, once again in open session, the CARA board voted to instruct Seth Sherry, the Albany economic development director, to list the property for three weeks and bring any offers back to CARA. Councilman Dick Olsen dissented. He believes moving to dispose of the property is premature until a planned study sheds more light on downtown parking needs.

Wells Fargo closed its downtown branch in 2018, and the city bought it this Feb. 1 for $1.5 million. CARA (or ARA, the urban renewal agency, which is actually the city council) had  authorized the purchase because the property is considered a key in any downtown renewal scheme.

The Oregon public records law allows public bodies to hold closed meetings to deliberate with officials designated to negotiate real estate transactions. The exception to open meetings is intended to keep the public from being overcharged when a governmental agency wants to buy real estate for a public purpose.

In this case, the property is already in city ownership, and no negotiations are going on. Instead, interested parties have made pitches to buy the property from the city and told the CARA board, complete with architectural renderings, what they see as the options for its redevelopment.

Considering the public’s stake in what happens to the downtown renewal effort under way since 2001, you’d think the public should be able to learn what the proposals are before CARA picks one and starts negotiating the terms. (hh)

5 responses to “City wants more proposals on vacant bank”

  1. J.Jacobson says:

    Relax! Think of CARA as that kindly old uncle you fondly remember…you know…that friendly, comforting person who was always there to steer you the right way. See..don’t you feel better just knowing they’re there.

  2. Albany YIMBY says:

    Perfect location for a small supermarket that could allow more residents downtown to go to buy groceries walking or using a bicycle.

    Urban supermarkets with minimal or no parking lots are common everywhere in Europe and allow for small shopping, healthy food and steps!

  3. Michael l Mathers says:

    Since Marijuana is now legal it seems like a great place for a “weed” store. I watched a Netflix documentary about the legalization of Marijuana in Colorado and it said former banks were sought out due the the fact there was a vault. Just a thought.

    • J. Jacobson says:

      Perhaps the owners of the proposed “weed store” could get into the business of banking for area marijuana growers/wholesalers/retailers.

      These small businesses provide jobs and pay their fair share of state, local and federal taxes, yet the so-called free marketeers will not allow any access to the normalized financial marketplace for these small businesses to operate in a more realistic manner. Hypocritical at best.

      But, a retail cannabis operation deep in the heart of CARA Country is rich, yes? And then, to make the pot salon into a banking/cash only operation for all of Linn-Benton-Lincoln County pot businesses…that will definitely send a tingle down the spines of our City Moms and Pops.

      Albany could be, with a little imagination, at the tip of the spear. Think outside the box if you dare.

  4. Rhea Graham says:

    I think my Canna-it-ALL Healing Center would go well there.


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