Delay demolition 90 days, city staff asks – Hasso Hering


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Delay demolition 90 days, city staff asks

Written October 7th, 2018 by Hasso Hering

Writing on the hallway wall in one of the old houses at Fourth Avenue and Calapooia Street.

Albany Planning Manager Bob Richardson has recommended that the city council allow the razing of three old houses in the Monteith Historic District on the condition that the demolition be put off at least 90 days in case someone wants to move the structures.

The council will hold a public hearing Wednesday night on the demolition request by homebuilders Mark and Tina Siegner, who bought the dilapidated structures in February for $85,000, hoping to either restore or demolish them, then found that renovations would be prohibitively expensive.

In a lengthy and exhaustive memo to the council, Richardson said that based on state regulations, the council could deny the demolition. But he offered another solution:

“Staff analysis finds that there are options to demolition, but they may not be prudent or feasible given the generally poor condition and low level of historic integrity each building possesses,” Richardson concluded. “Similarly, staff finds that the buildings are not deteriorated beyond repair, but despite the various possible uses for the site other than single-family rentals, when comparing the historic value of the structures to the financial costs to rehabilitate them, rehabilitation may not be economical.”

If the council goes for the approval with a 90-day delay, the planning staff asked that the owners by required to post signs “to market the structures to persons interested in relocating them off-site.”

The houses are at 331 Calapooia St. and 525 and 533 Fourth Ave. S.W. The Calapooia house dates from about 1858 and may be one of oldest in the Monteith District. The other two were built around 1890.

The city condemned them last year as uninhabitable and dangerous, and the tenants were forced out. The places had been neglected for decades and in recent  years had been owned by the Signs of Victory Mission, which housed otherwise homeless people there.

In the 1990s the properties lost their property tax breaks as historic structures because of their deteriorated condition. County records show one of them was declared a drug house about that time.

The Albany Landmarks Advisory Commission had turned down the new owners’ demolition application, which put off any action until next July 9. The council then took the case because some members thought the owners should not have to wait that long.

Wednesday’s council meeting starts at 7:15 p.m. at City Hall, and the demolition hearing should begin shortly after that. (hh)

The three houses at issue: The one on the corner was built around 1858.




17 responses to “Delay demolition 90 days, city staff asks”

  1. James Engel says:

    So the Siegner’s will eventually get (3) downtown building lots for a price that couldn’t be touched anywhere else in that area. Yes, there will be demolition costs but in the end with three “pricey” new homes to sell they won’t be hurting. The Siegner’s efforts to even consider restoring one of the (3) homes is like my efforts to lose weight! Not gonna happen any time soon. J.E.

  2. J. Jacobson says:

    If the City is so interested in “moving” these so-called historical wrecks then the City should pay any and all costs associated with informing the public as to opportunities to buy and move the rotting hulks. Otherwise, the City ought to shut-up.

  3. Michael Dee says:

    When the houses are demolished, maybe some effort can be made to save some of the old wood, if any is worth keeping. I think it could be kind of cool if new houses built had old beams incorporated into their appearance. There’s wood in those houses like you can’t get today.

  4. Out Of Towner says:

    Three dilapidated houses will be gone. Three new houses will be built, or apartments. Three new families will have housing and three properties will be back on the tax roles. Sounds ok to me.

  5. @CorvalliSteve says:

    Wait a minute…

    City declares one a drug house.
    City condemns all three.
    Now city wants to delay demolition in case somebody wants to move in.
    Does this make sense to anyone?

  6. Dala Rouse says:

    There may be 3 houses but they are on one tax lot. I understand they want to build rental units so there will not be 3 new houses. The original request along with the houses was, they wanted to build 4 bay garage with apartments above which is why they wanted so much money from CARA.

  7. Jacobin Hanschlatter says:

    There has yet to be a convincing argument made for the preservation of these old buildings and many others that have been “rescued” by the preservationists. Why is it important that we maintain ancient, crumbling structures? What does doing so buy the citizenry? Grasp the Past seems to be the predominant political philosophy.

  8. Caw Casian says:

    “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
    George Santayana

    If Santayana is correct, then Albany is forever stuck in a closed-loop of endless preservation. Progress in these parts is already stunted enough. It seems absurd to continually grasp for some nonexistent time and place when Albany was a “decent” community.

  9. Dick Olsen says:

    Neighbors who are avid to see the three historic houses demolished, should realize that they are in a MUC land use zone where high rise residential, business and or light industrial uses are allowed. Do they want any of these across the street? I wouldn’t.

    • Linda LaRosseau says:

      OMG! That some would prefer saving dilapidated structures rather than have a newly-minted, property tax-paying, job-hub is understandable. Resistance to ceding the authority to hold-up future development to a self-selected, rule-making cabal huddling in the closed confines of City Hall is equally understandable. It all comes down to how you believe Albany can remain relevant. Is maintaining a fantasy of The Good Old Days crucial for survival, or is measured development, following a reasonable regulatory regimen the correct path.

    • centrist says:

      Dick, throwing FUD ( fear, uncertainty, doubt) is a cheap-shot, downright weak tactic.

      • Dick Olsen says:

        As a Councilman, the majority of the complaints I get are from constituents who object to proposed apartment houses or non residential uses that are being proposed to be built in their back yards or across the street. Some neighbors have sold out and moved away to avoid such “improvements”. I think land use planning with an eye toward neighborhood compatibility is a good thing.

  10. Shawn Dawson says:

    I live one block away in an historic home which we love. I have walked past these houses hundreds of times. I would be happy to see a high rise, apartment complex, light industrial, or a business. These too make a neighborhood.


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