A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Land deal proposed for old church

Written June 7th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

The former church at Santiam and Main is on the city council’s agenda again this week.

The historic former Cumberland Presbyterian Church has periodically occupied the Albany Council for the last 20 years. Now it’s on the agenda again.

On Wednesday night (June 10), the council will be asked to authorize negotiations for an agreement to sell and/or lease city property near Hackleman Park to the nonprofit that wants to move the former church and turn it into a community or event center.

The proposed site consists of four lots on Santiam Road, a quarter-mile from where the church sits at Santiam and Main.

As outlined by the city staff, the deal would have the Cumberland Community Event Center buy one of the lots for $69,000 and lease the other three for up to 10 years, with lease payments counting toward eventual purchase of the land.

Once the building is remodeled, the nonprofit and the city would enter a “use agreement” allowing the city to have the place eight hours a month for recreation programs.

After the building is moved, the city would declare its historic site to be surplus and try to sell it, with proceeds going to the street fund. (The city paid $150,000 for the property in 2000 for a street project that later was redesigned to make the purchase unnecessary.)

In September 2019, the council informally agreed to give the building to the Cumberland group for one dollar, with any deal for its future site still up in the air.

When last I wrote about this in February, the Cumberland group estimated the project would cost more than $1 million. It had raised about $50,000 and was hoping for grants.

One question about this enterprise that no one has raised, let alone answered, is that of “historic review.”

Built in 1892 and expanded in the 1920s, the church is listed on Albany’s inventory of historic structures as a Queen Anne-style building. So, would moving it from its historic site and making exterior alterations or using substitute materials require approval by the Albany Landmarks Commission?

We’ll leave that question for another day. (hh)

5 responses to “Land deal proposed for old church”

  1. centrist says:

    This saga seems never-resolving, with many Dilbert elements.
    I expect that Phil, the Prince of Insufficient Light will stir confusion with his pitchspoon.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      No kidding! Sadly, it could have been “done” long ago had we had the political will & backbone to see it through…

  2. Richard Vannice says:

    Your “Historical” question might be, at least partially, by looking to the old railroad building that was moved from the near south end of Halsey to its present location on the north end.
    It was hoped that the would be able to get it on the historic registry; but, alas, the raising it to a two story negated any chance they had.
    Apparently for Nation Registry status it is best if nothing other than paint is done.

  3. birdieken says:

    So the city is to sell a building for a $149,999.00 loss to a charity with little or no money and rely of freebies to finish the project.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      No, the deal is to give the building away for one dollar with the requirement that it be moved. Then the city sells the land, and the proceeds of the sale go into the street fund, which paid for the property in the first place.


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