A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Council approves ‘Calapooia Court,’ 5-1

Written June 24th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

A drawing of the project the city council approved on Wednesday night.

It took nearly three hours for another public hearing Wednesday night, but in the end the Albany City Council voted 5-1 to approve a project for the northeast corner of Fourth Avenue and Calapooia Street, where three dilapidated old houses were demolished a year ago.

Opponents have 21 days to take their case to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals, as they did over the demolition of the houses.

On the current plan for “Calapooia Court” (two buildings with commercial spaces on the ground floor and apartments above, eight two-bedroom units in all) the council overturned the Albany Landmarks Commission, which had deemed the buildings too tall and too massive for the Monteith Historic District, which includes the site.

Councilman Dick Olsen proposed to deny the application, but he got no support. Councilman Alex Johnson II, one of the five yes voters, said this is the kind of project downtown Albany needs in order for the town to move forward. If Albany doesn’t do positive things like this, in his view, young people will keep leaving and the town will die.

Albany architect Bill Ryals designed the buildings for the owners of the corner lot, Mark and Tina Siegner. At 60 by 30 feet on the ground, Ryals said, “These are not big buildings.”

There was a vast amount of more talk on both sides, as there had been in two Landmarks meetings on this application. You can listen to it when the recording of Wednesday’s virtual meeting– held remotely via the Internet — is posted on the city’s website.

For now, we wait for the next shoe to drop in this long — and for the Siegners expensive — proceeding. That is when we learn whether the opponents, including Friends of Historic Albany, appeal the council decision to LUBA in hopes of thwarting or at least delaying the plan. (hh)

15 responses to “Council approves ‘Calapooia Court,’ 5-1”

  1. Monica Weber says:

    I was only able to listen to the first half hr or so. They said the buildings had to be lowered by at least 4 ft. Will that still be required? If so, I can’t see taking that much out of the height and keeping it livable at 3 stories.

  2. Jeff Senders says:

    These structures are no higher than the nearby River View Place Apartments.

    My concern is the lack of off street parking. Obviously the profit margin didn’t pencil out by providing same. But since ADU’s do not require off street parking, this valid concern is moot.

    So who cares?

    The residents living in the neighborhood.

    Now its their problem.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      These are not “ADUs.” They’re 3-story apartment complexes. Existing city codes do not require parking space for where they’re being sited. The design does incorporate a small number in addition to an interior “pocket park.”

      • Jeff Senders says:

        obviously these are not ADU’s.

        And just because city codes don’t require adequate off street parking doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be taken into consideration.

        Masks aren’t required in the grocery stores. Does that mean you shouldn’t take wearing a mask into consideration?

        The pocket park doesn’t allow for enough off street parking. If and when the units fill it will be a problem for both the neighbors and the business’ on the first floor.

        But it will pencil out, which is more important.

    • Albany YIMBY says:

      There is no such thing as a right to store your car for free on the street. Minimum parking requirements are a travesty that increase price of housing and destroy valuable land that could be use for something else more useful.
      Don’t worry, you’ll survive.

      • Patrick Spence says:

        I agree completely. It’s refreshing to here from people who share these views. The idea that a dozen new cars parking on a generally empty block will somehow transform the neighborhood is absurd. The city council made the correct decision, and I, for one, am excited for the added density and vibrancy this will bring to the area. We need as much new housing as possible and we need it concentrated Downtown.

  3. Tina says:

    In the midst of a global pandemic, high unemployment rate and a huge homeless population! I question this city counsels priorities! Exactly what kind of businesses do they think will move in? Who can afford the rental costs? Why is All the time, attention and money focused on Downtown Albany? There is an ENTIRE CITY IN NEED!

    • centrist says:

      No public money is involved in this deal. The Council vote was to approve or deny progress.

  4. sonamata says:

    They made the right decision. The City must ensure the downtown improvements are accessible to everyone, not just those that can afford (or want) to buy the large, old single family homes that dominate the surrounding area. The parking complaints rely on outdated thinking that every adult must own a car. Walkable access to businesses and public transit is a reason people choose to live downtown, especially younger generations (Alex Johnson is spot on!). Sometimes it’s not a choice – car ownership is a luxury when housing costs are high.

    More concerning is a pattern in the public comments in opposition to Calapooia Court. Start with aesthetic nitpicks, then some density dog whistles, and then the NIMBY lament that [multifamily] housing would be so much better [anywhere but here]. These seemingly reasonable concerns can be polite dressing on ugly attitudes towards those of perceived lower economic status, especially renters (~40% of Albany households). I hope the City is vigilant about this bias as they address housing availability and affordability, especially in the context of the development code amendment project. The property values of historic district homeowners have certainly benefited from CARA more than those in the outlying neighborhoods who also fund CARA projects. They don’t get matching grants for housing rehab, either. If Calapooia Court decreases their property values and reduces the disparity in gains (doubtful), so be it.

    • Albany YIMBY says:


      I loved to read your comment. I would really like if you want to get in touch and discuss ways we can work to make Albany more livable and walkable. Find me at this Twitter: @AlbanyYimby

  5. Rick says:

    This council‘s decision was made before this meeting. We shall see where this takes us when a similar situation arises.

  6. LoLa Jayne says:

    I think a certain percentage of all new apartment construction should include units for lower income tenants. Rents are too high! Who can afford $1,000+ for an apt., plus utilities!?


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