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)