A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Demolition cost more than expected

Written June 25th, 2023 by Hasso Hering

Seen on Saturday afternoon, the former Wells Fargo lot looks like a wide-open site looking for a use.

Unforeseen complications have raised the cost of demolishing the former Wells Fargo Bank branch in downtown Albany.

On Wednesday (June 28) the city council, acting as the Albany Revitalization Agency or ARA, will be asked to approve an increase of $42,360 in the original contract of $238,686 with Laneco Demolition, a Portland firm.

ARA approval is needed because the additional expense is bigger than 10 percent of the original contract.

Sophie Adams, who oversees Albany’s urban renewal program as interim economic development manager, explained the complications in a memo to the ARA.

First, a tile floor with asbestos was discovered under a 2-inch-thick concrete slab, requiring additional work to legally dispose of the material.

Then, it was found that parts of the foundation and structures such as vaults and a coal chute extended into the public right-of-way along First Avenue and Broadalbin Street, requiring additional work and the placement of asphalt on the surface.

A coal chute? Remember that the building was constructed for the First National Bank starting in 1912. The five-story building would have had a coal-fired boiler in the basement.

The demolition contractor also had to do additional work to stabilize a gas main that was discovered to extend into the alley behind the building. This was the item that added the largest amount to the expense.

The total cost of the demolition, including $20,000 for “project management and inspection,” now comes to about $301,000.

Albany’s urban renewal program bought the building for $1.5 million in 2019 after Wells Fargo closed the branch in the summer of 2018.

The city has advertised the lot formerly occupied by the bank for sale. The ad quotes a price of $310,000, but any actual price would be set as part of negotiations on how the buyer plans to develop the property.

In the past, officials have talked about wanting a multi-story residential building with commercial space on the ground floor. Maybe that will happen, but for now the property, along with the adjacent parking lot that’s not for sale, amounts to a large open space at the core of the historic downtown. (hh)

12 responses to “Demolition cost more than expected”

  1. Joyce Nelson says:

    Why did they buy the building in the first place? Wasted lost money!
    The contractor was probably the lowest bidder and now wants additional money? Hmmm, a contract is a contract is was up to him to find all issues and factor all of that in. Stop spending!!

  2. Peg says:

    Our roads and schools are falling apart and this money is overindulgence, and a KNOW YOUR AUDENCE VIBE!!!!!! UNFRIGGINBELIEVABLE!!!

    • hj.anony1 says:

      @ Peggy

      LOL. last I checked the schools have been rebuilt in Albany and are not struggling.

      Maybe the School Board and their divisive nature but flush that.

  3. Ronald says:

    They paid 1.5 million and now say it is worth 310 thousand. Sounds like liberal economics.

  4. Hartman says:

    The folks running CARA back when this entire Urban Development project got started were typical Albany conservative, Right wing, reactionary GOP members … the same folks who’ve steered Albany against its own self-interest for decades. Please read history and understand the implications that flow from the past. The underpinnings for this bank debacle were laid down LONG ago by the Reactionary Right and the monied-classes who thought rebuilding downtown would benefit them immensely.

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      And the names of these “typical Albany conservative, Right wing, reactionary GOP members” are?

  5. PoC says:

    Your 11/17/22 https://hh-today.com/razing-300-w-first-three-bids-received/ had 2 other bids at $320K & $384K. The additional $42.3K is still cheaper than the other 2 bids. Wonder if the other bids had plans for unexpected cost – coal chute and asbestos.

  6. Fred Felde says:

    I think it is time to change the
    leadership in Albany city starting at the top and working down to tha city council members. This is sounding like the sewer treatment plant debacle resulting in the high base increase for water and sewer. I will never vote for a incumbent if they continue to cost us more money at every turn.

  7. RICH KELLUM says:

    the whole question is:
    Shouldn’t the contractor have seen the coal shute and the asbestos???

  8. Anon says:

    No…the real question is, why didn’t they sell it instead of knocking it down. An even better question is why did they overpay for a building they didn’t have a use for?


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