A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Edgewater Village: City marks its completion

Written February 17th, 2022 by Hasso Hering

We’re looking east along Front Avenue inside Edgewater Village on the afternoon of Feb, 17, 2022.

It took a while, but Albany city officials now have formally acknowledged the successful completion in 2020 of Edgewater Village, a development of 58 homes on the Willamette River that overcame tough challenges during the 17 years since it began.

Developers Paula and George Diamond and their son-in-law, Vasili Rozakis, appeared remotely during a virtual meeting of the Albany Revitalization Agency (ARA) on Wednesday night. City council members, who make up the ARA, expressed their appreciation to the Diamonds for seeing the project through and overcoming big hurdles — the 2008 housing crash and the 2019 Covid outbreak among them.

“What a journey,” ARA Chair Bessie Johnson said. “Thank you!”

A digital presentation traced the project from its beginnings in 2005 through its completion more than a year ago. In 2008 the CARA urban renewal district, the entity governed by the ARA, provided $2.4 million in financial aid toward the development.

The amount included $900,000 toward cleaning up the ruins of the former Inland Quick Freeze fish-processing plant, which had been destroyed by fire. It was on the plant’s 6-acre site that the housing was to be developed.

The CARA aid package was fashioned as a loan, to be forgiven in phases as homes were completed.

The original plan for 146 condos had to be abandoned because there was no market for condos in Albany, at least in that location. Instead, the developers would build 58 houses and townhouses plus one duplex. The 58 units now are occupied, all but three of them by households that rent them. 

The duplex had been planned on a site that the Diamonds now think would be better used for something else. “Something for the neighborhood,” as George put it.

The duplex site is part of a large vacant parcel inside the development. The city of Albany owns the remaining one acre of that central parcel, and the council recently held off on a staff proposal to sell the city land for “affordable housing.”

A rendering briefly shown at the meeting proposes to build a parking lot on part of the parcel, which would be handy for customers of the Calapooia Brewing restaurant across Water Avenue as well as for Edgewater itself, where many vehicles now are parked on the street. But nobody went into detail on what to do with the central parcel.

The developers said that through 2021, Edgewater has yielded nearly $927,000 in property taxes, and annual taxes on Edgewater property now total $240,000.
At that rate, CARA’s investment should be repaid in 10 years. (hh)

11 responses to “Edgewater Village: City marks its completion”

  1. Bill Kapaun says:

    Had nothing been done, how much tax money would the property have generated over the last 17 years?

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    If I’m reading this correct, it will take more than 10 years to pay back if annual taxes are approx $240,000/year.

    You seem to assume that this private property had zero taxable value before the Lake Oswego developer took over.

    And please report on some basic facts that address affordability –

    (1) What is the rent for the 55 rentals? $1,500 – $2,500/month? Less? More?

    (2) Who owns the 55 rental properties? The Lake Oswego developer? Albany based investors? Are these rental properties for sell? What is the asking price range for each property type?

    (3) What was the sell price for the 3 properties that were sold? $350,000 – $450,000? Less? More?

    (4) Is this publicly subsidized development (~$42,000/unit) within reach of an average income for an Albany family? Or can this development be more accurately described as welfare for more affluent folks?

    Providing answers will help Albany taxpayers (rich & poor) decide if this “investment” was the highest and best use of public money.

    • Jennifer Stuart says:

      Actually, four of the 58 homes have been sold to people outside of the Diamond family, not three.

      My husband and I were the first purchase an Edgewater Village home in 2017, after renting the same house for one year. We paid $329,000. That was after searching the local market for several months, and the price we paid was comparable to other homes that would meet our specific needs.

      Here are answers to Mr. Shadle’s questions:

      1) There are 2 Edgewater Village homes advertised for rent on Craigslist. 888 Front Ave NE (a townhouse) for $1830/month, and 944 Front Ave NE (a riverfront single family house) for $2595/month. 52 units occupied out of 54 is a 96% occupation rate. This means that the current rental rates are supported by the market.

      2) All of the 54 houses and townhomes are owned by members of the Diamond family. None of them are currently listed for sale.

      3) The four properties that were sold are as follows (this is public information available on Zillow.com)
      8/28/2017 – 1888 square foot house with single car garage $329,000
      2/23/2018 – 1839 square foot river-front house with 2-car garage $384,900
      8/19/2019 – 1839 square foot river-front house with 2-car garage $392,500
      (This house resold 5/10/2021 for $450,000)
      1/21/2020 – 1970 square foot house with 2-car garage and large front yard $372,500

      4) I don’t know the statistics for average income in Albany, but I do think that these houses are out of reach for many first time home buyers.

      This CARA investment will pay for itself in a relatively short time and encouraged the development of an area that according to Hasso Hering was “a big riverfront tract in Albany that [had] been a wasteland since the demolition of what was left of the Inland Quick Freeze packing plant after it burned down in 2006”. In June 18, 2014, Hasso Hering said “the five tax lots making up the nearly 6-acre property have a taxable value totaling $443,790. So putting 60 houses on the property at $225,000 each, according to my guess, would add around $13 million to the taxable value, other things being more or less equal.”

      My only disappointment with Edgewater Village is that the developer decided to sell the properties to himself to hold as rental properties for the time being. This was in response to changing market conditions. But I am glad that they stuck it out and completed the project.

      • Ray Kopczynski says:

        Thank you Jennifer!

      • Gordon L. Shadle says:

        Jennifer, your numbers are very enlightening.

        The median household income for Albany is about $65,000. This is the value separating the upper half from the lower half.

        $65,000 may qualify a person in the middle to buy a house for about $225,000, assuming they have about $22,500 for a down payment.

        And the median gross rent in Albany is about $1,000.

        So it’s clear. Jennifer’s numbers reveal that this subsidized development should be most accurately described as welfare for affluent folks.

        So I ask again, was this “investment” the highest and best use of $2,400,000 of public money?

        • Ray Kopczynski says:

          The folks renting the units had to relocate from somewhere. It was a better option for them. And, considering what was there before and the process/time involved to get it to completion — it’s the best use. And it’s done!

        • Jennifer Stuart says:

          Gordon, where did you get your median rent figure? I think that is way under the true median based on my experience. A family member moved out of a poorly maintained 2 bedroom apartment on Salem Ave a year ago because the rents were increasing to around $1100. When she originally moved in I went and repaired kitchen cabinet face fronts, removed the cabinet doors and stripped off decades of grease, did the same for the outsides of the cabinets, cleaned mold out of the bathroom and from all of the windows, got on my hands and knees to scrape and scrub gunk off of the kitchen and bathroom floors, and made a screen for the window. This is because it was being rented “as is” and repairs would not be made. At the time it was the least expensive 2 bedroom apartment available in town.

  3. John Allen says:

    “The original plan for 146 condos had to be abandoned because there was no market for condos in Albany, at least in that location.” No wonder I haven’t been able to find a condo in Albany! Views like the one above.

  4. James Engel says:

    From what this nut can learn is that my kids. grandkids and probably my great grandkids will be paying this debt off. If the $$ came out of CARA members personal accounts betcha there would be a better financial arrangement. California outlawed this kind of financing & so should we!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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