An Albany developer has dropped his plan to renovate the former St. Francis Hotel and adjacent Rhodes Block, but the idea of the restoration itself may not yet be completely dead.
The news was a disappointment to the Central Albany Revitalization Area advisory board, which met Wednesday. Last May the board had approved Marc Manley’s request for a grant of $3,759,000 toward the restoration he had proposed.
Seth Sherry, Albany’s economic development manager, told the board that Manley had to give up the project because of the tax burden he would face if he accepted the grant.
CARA, or rather its governing agency, the Albany Revitalization Agency made up of the city council, has an option to buy the former hotel and Rhodes building for $650,000. The option runs out in December. The city’s idea was to resell the property to a developer who would restore it with CARA’s help.
Sherry told the CARA board he saw a potential “viable option” and a “promising pathway” to move forward, but he did not spell it out in public. He said he would present this option to the council (ARA) in an executive meeting.
He did just that during the ARA session after the CARA board meeting, and the council afterward said it expects to receive a detailed development proposal when it and the CARA board meet again on Oct. 20.
The board met for more than two hours Wednesday. Members spent much of the time debating whether to accept new requests for money or stick with the board’s earlier decision to spend CARA’s remaining funds on three big projects: the St. Francis, the redevelopment of the former Wells Fargo branch downtown, and redeveloping the Willamette riverfront from Monteith Park to Main Street.
The upshot of the prolonged debate is that this topic will be on the agenda for the CARA board’s October meeting. The debate was touched off by a note from Sid Stevens, who wanted to know whether CARA would consider assisting in the completion of work on the Bikman Building, which houses his jewelry store.
Stevens didn’t get an answer Wednesday, and if he still wants one, he’ll have to wait another month. (hh)