A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

In North Albany, a plan for 195 dwellings

Written January 20th, 2021 by Hasso Hering

The preliminary site plan for the proposed development northeast of the North Albany Shopping Center.

Nearly four years ago, the city council refused to rezone about 13 acres in North Albany to allow a mixed-use residential and commercial development. Now the owner, Jim Winkler of Portland, is back with a new proposal: just housing, without any stores.

The proposal covers nearly 15 vacant acres, more than before, between the North Albany Shopping Center and the North Pointe neighborhood to the east. The preliminary plan calls for 195 townhomes and duplexes with two, three or four bedrooms each, along with some open space.

A planning firm working for Winkler Development Corp., notified neighbors of the proposed development in a letter inviting them to a virtual, online community meeting scheduled Jan. 27. Albany’s code requires such meetings before developers file their land-use applications. (No application has yet been filed in this case. A Facebook posting by one of the affected neighbors alerted me to the proposal Tuesday night.)

n 2017, the size of the property at issue then would have allowed 380 apartments under the existing medium-residential zoning, and the developer proposed about 350.

In August that year the council, responding to strong neighborhood opposition, voted 3-2 to deny a zone change to mixed-use commercial. The change would have allowed Winkler to design what he said would be an innovative mix of senior and other housing whose residents would also have services close by.

The two councilors against the rejection were Bessie Johnson, still on the council now, and Ray Kopczynski, who has been re-elected after sitting out two years.

The preliminary plan sent with the invitation to the community meeting showed three access points for the development, one from the shopping center, one on Pleasant Way, and one on Troon Street in North Pointe.

The plan appears to comply with the zoning, and four years ago the city planning staff concluded that the larger proposal met all the requirements of the development code, including that the streets could handle the traffic. So chances are that this proposal, with fewer residential units, meets the code as well. (hh)



19 responses to “In North Albany, a plan for 195 dwellings”

  1. Nate Conroy says:

    Would it be possible to post the link to the Facebook online community meeting?

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Isn’t there a noncoercive alternative to government control of private property (zoning & land use laws) in the context of a free society?

    Imagine an Albany where private property owners and developers in a given neighborhood are free to contractually agree what restrictions to impose on themselves.

    The power to make private property decisions should never be given to a fluctuating council. Nor should these decisions be administered by an impersonal city bureaucracy. The current system is anti-freedom.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      Viewing areas with lack of cohesive zoning results in massive unregulated sprawl. Simply drive up & down the coast to see the obvious ramifications…

      • Mike says:

        I definitely agree with Ray. Good zoning leads to a healthy and vibrant community. Building for ‘progress’ and a quick buck leads to more issues later on. Build it right the first time with planned intention.

  3. Ron says:

    Senior housing and low income housing worse than to keep up building north Albany when Ellsworth bridge isn’t built for more traffic

  4. Ray Kopczynski says:

    “In August that year [2017] the council, responding to strong neighborhood opposition, voted 3-2 to deny a zone change to mixed-use commercial. The change would have allowed Winkler to design what he said would be an innovative mix of senior and other housing whose residents would also have services close by.”

    It’s now coming to pass exactly what I thought would happen – and exactly why I voted as I did…

  5. Brian Berkley says:

    It seems that the city just wants revenue from development fees and property taxes, and nothing will be done to improve traffic flow that is already bad during peak times, and a literal parking lot if there’s an accident on Hwy 20, or if Hwy 34 is closed due to high water.

    North Albany is overdeveloped, traffic across the bridge into the city is half the posted speed limit because everyone lines up in the left lane to turn left on 2nd or queue up for going under the overpass by the train station. The lights on 2nd don’t time well and traffic backs up even more. The intersection of Hickory and Springhill Drive will be worse.

    I see nothing positive for people already residing in North Albany out of this. The city gets some revenue, and the land owner will get to develop his property with a density level unsuitable for the area giving existing infrastructure.

    • Mac says:

      Exactly! Yet they’ve committed a bunch of money to help out the South Albany Henshaw farms project! One of you city council geniuses explain that? Why pay what should be their system development charges on our dime while ignoring and adding to the North Albany traffic problem??? If anything you should be promoting the commercial part in the area of this project, keeps people from needing to cross the bridge!

  6. Jan says:

    Where are these residents planning to park their 2,3,4 cars per unit?

  7. Albany YIMBY says:

    The ponzi scheme of suburban growth is strong.

    Instead the city and developers could be investing in residential infills in large infra-utilized sections of our downtown. This is so much against the current trends in urban development and it is only going to mean more transfer of taxes from city dwellers to North Albany suburbanites, more Car-centric growth and a less livable Albany.

    • HowlingCicada says:

      I agree with you about urban vs suburban, tax transfer, and especially car-centric growth.

      But can you really call this area suburbia? Because it’s new? It seems to me more like an incipient town center. The previous plan was more appropriate, as Ray voted.

    • HowlingCicada says:

      Thank you for nudging me to read about the ponzi scheme. Very enlightening and important. Summary with links to a five-part series from 2011:

      Since 2011, everything related to real estate in desirable places like Albany has more-or-less doubled in price, with corresponding increases in tax only from newcomers. Just a notion to consider if you read the articles.

      • Dick Olsen says:

        Interesting. Can these homes be purchased, or are they all rentals?

        • HowlingCicada says:

          I assume your question was intended for the Corvallis houses in my comment below.

          All that I know is what I can gather from Zillow, the sometimes-useful, sometimes-bonkers real estate site. They show one house currently for sale and about 20 which have been sold “recently” (since 2018?). None are listed “for rent” (this may not be a reliable indicator).

          I don’t see any reason why this area would differ from any other “single family” area in terms of rent vs buy, unless you consider smaller houses more prone to being bought by speculators for renting.

          You might want to come and take a look, especially in regard to how these houses fit in the neighborhood.

          My unasked-for commentary:
          If you consider rentals by speculators to be a problem — and I can sympathize — it’s something that should have been solved by higher capital gains tax instead of restrictive zoning, etc. Smaller doesn’t mean crappier. The real problem with higher-density housing is too many cars — something that can only be solved with innovation outside the scope of conventional city-planning. Smaller is what we desperately need for dignified housing for all but the few who have “made it” or who have been lucky enough to buy before it became nearly impossible.

  8. RUDY says:

    Sad situation , indeed, why do the have to build there? They really don’t …….why does the City? $$$$$$$$$$..From the roundabout WEST MAJOR ROAD CORROSION…….AND SOMETIMES CAR WAIT FROM THE SCHOOLS TO HWY 20…….NORTH POINT BUILDUP WILL MAKE IT WORSE, TO WORK &back will magnify THE WORKING SCHEDULES FOR FOLKS………..AN ATROCIOUS AUTOMOBILE ….. that’s not counting Corvallis input of 2-WAY CITIZEN TRAFFIC………WHEN WILL THIS EASE BACK……..?

  9. HowlingCicada says:

    To see something with a similar idea in Corvallis:
    Try Street View. Quick count looks like 100 units.

    It’s not in my nearby neighborhood, but I ride through there occasionally. According to Zillow (caveat emptor): built 2002-2003, worth mid 300k’s, around 1500 sq. ft.

    At first, I hated this place — partly because of its phony-traditional look and disfunctionally narrow porches — but grudgingly came to accept, if not like it. The growing trees help a lot. It seems to fit fairly well next to a neighborhood of similar-age detached houses to the north which are double the size and price range. Mostly, it manages to house 100 families in what looks like reasonable comfort with less resource burden than we’re used to. If that seems like faint praise, you’re correct.

  10. Charleen Mirrison says:

    There is vacant land on every side of downtown Albany. Hiwy 20 between Albany and Lebanon. Hiwy 99 between Albany and Tangent and farther south. Land off I-5 going north etc. Lots of open spaces. A project like this will plummet property values and create already dangerous driving and walking conditions.
    Also why is Albany allowing out of town developers take over? They contribute nothing to local economy. Albany projects should go to Albany builders .


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