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)