Since at least February 2014, the Albany City Council has been trying to get rid of the historic Cumberland Church it bought for $150,000 20 years ago. Now this may finally get done, but if the plan works, it’s going to cost private donors around a million dollars or more.
The Cumberland Events Center, a private group centered on the east Willamette neighborhood, has been raising money for its dream of turning the 128-year-old building into a venue for, well, events.
On July 8, the council voted to give the group until Oct. 1 to exercise its option to buy one of four city-owned lots near the Albany Skatepark, at Santiam and Pine. That’s where the church would be moved, remodeled and expanded with additional space and parking.
It’s a quarter-mile down Santiam Road from 401 Main St., where the church was built in 1892 and remodeled in 1920. The group evidently raised the $69,000 the city wanted for that lot. It plans to lease the other three lots from the city, with details to be worked out.
Meanwhile, Cumberland Events Center has applied for a city permit to have the church moved. The Albany Landmarks Commission will hold a virtual, online hearing on the application at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7.
Cumberland Events Center submitted a site plan for the new location:
What if Landmarks denies the request on the grounds that moving the old church and embellishing it with a modern addition would destroy its historic integrity. Wouldn’t happen, right? If it does, the council could reverse Landmarks on appeal.
The council wants the church gone from that lot so it can sell the vacant land. There was talk some time ago of Baldwin Construction next door being interested, but not if the church was still there.
The entire Cumberland project — the move, remodeling and site improvements at the new location — has been estimated to cost more than a million dollars. This is money that would have to be privately raised. Then the private group will face operational expenses year after year.
My question: What are the future paying events in search of a venue that doesn’t already exist? (hh)