A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

New life for an old church?

Written January 1st, 2015 by Hasso Hering
The afternoon of New Year's Eve, the sun shines on the old Cumberland Church.

On the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, the sun shines on the old Cumberland Church.

This may be the year someone rescues the old church at Albany’s Main Street and Santiam Road before it falls down. Two parties have submitted proposals to acquire the city-owned property at 401 S.E. Main and do something with it, and the city staff is analyzing the offers.

dec 31 006Albany bought the property in 2000 for $150,000, thinking it would be needed for a street project. But as it turned out, the Main Street project was redesigned before it was finally constructed in 2014, and the council declared the two-lot property surplus last February and later asked for proposals from would-be buyers.

Two proposals came in by the Dec. 30 deadline, reports Chris Bailey, public works operations director. One came from Randy Durig, owner of Durig Capital in Tigard, who would restore the building and lease it to a congregation and also rent it for events including weddings. The other was submitted by Good Samaritan Ministries of Albany, which also would like to restore the structure and use it for its services.

What about money? That angle, alas, was left out in Bailey’s response to my inquiry on New Year’s Eve day. She did say that both proposals envisioned applying for financial help from CARA, the downtown urban renewal district.

Bailey says the city’s review team may ask the parties to clarify their ideas, then score the proposals next week. “Once we have the complete picture, we will put together a staff report for City Council and take it to a work session, hopefully by the middle of January.” Based on council direction, the city will then seek to negotiate a deal, and Bailey says, “I am hopeful that we will be able to find a good use for the property that will benefit that neighborhood and the city.”

The building is known as the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, constructed in 1892 and remodeled in the 1920s. A staff report to the council a year ago estimated it would take at least $100,000 to make the place usable. Its problems include dry rot on the exterior, a roof that needs replacing, and lead-based exterior paint that requires special handling. And then there is the sewer lateral, which the city says “is reverse-grade.” This seems to mean that this is one place in town where the, er, waste does NOT run down hill. (hh)

Lead paint -- not bike parking -- is among the building's issues.

Lead paint — not bike parking — is among the building’s issues.

7 responses to “New life for an old church?”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    I can think of a few hundred reasons why CARA money should not be granted for this project, and the obvious one is public funds siphoned away from essential services should not find their way into a church’s offering plate.

    But I’m certain the highly compensated City Attorney and City Manager are already working hard to find a loop-hole for CARA to slither through. Their ability to parse words in this regard is Clintonian.

    The City of Albany has turned feeding at the public trough into an art form.

  2. Bill Kapaun says:

    This should be interesting to watch-
    I’m not aware of CARA funds being used other than downtown.
    Now that the City has outsmarted itself again, they need help to unload this pig in a poke.
    Will CARA “expand” its range?

  3. James Carrick says:

    Where would the CARA advocates suggest the eventual patrons/users of this church building park their vehicles? The Carriage House Plaza lot? It’s usually near full. The new non-CARA funded Baldwin lot? Nope. That wouldn’t work or be right now would it? Perhaps instead of shelling out 70K or so for roundabout landscaping nearby, they should simply pave the center and use it to park the cars of the people benefiting from such an “investment.” Makes about as much sense.

    • James Carrick says:

      I looked on the City of Albany Info Hub map and from their information, the ground directly east of this church building is a separate tax lot. Does it go with the church building?… or is it under separate ownership? Even if it goes with the church it’s not up to Albany’s requirements for parking area (my guess). Anyone able to clarify any of this further?

  4. Hazel Siebrecht says:

    This is such a beautiful church, I admire it every time I drive by. I’m not into the politics of Albany, I’d just love to see it restored.


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