A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

‘Pending’? Not any more; depot deal is done

Written May 31st, 2022 by Hasso Hering

At the corner of Fifth and Lyon on Tuesday evening, May 31.

The “sale pending” sign was out of date on Tuesday night, but not by much. The sale of the historic Oregon Electric Railway depot in downtown Albany was completed earlier in the day.

The sale had been in the works since Feb. 1, when Matt and Janel Bennett announced they were under contract to buy the property from Hamid Siddiqui and his brother Tariq “Tim” Siddiqui.

On Tuesday afternoon, Matt Bennett called to say it was now a done deal. The closing papers on the sale had just been signed. The purchase price was $900,000.

The Bennetts own Sybaris Bistro, the restaurant they’ve operated since 2001 in rented space at Washington Street and First Avenue. They want to restore the historic OER depot, built in 1912, and move their restaurant there.

Next, they’ll be working with architect Bill Ryals and their contractor, Pyburn and Sons, to go into the details of what needs to be done and “nail down the cost,” in Matt’s words.

The building is important in Albany’s and Oregon’s history. Its completion 110 years ago represented a milestone in the Oregon Electric’s drive to open a line from Portland to Eugene.

The structure remains pretty much unchanged from a century ago. And to help with the cost of refurbishing it, as reported earlier, the Bennetts and the Albany Downtown Association have been approved for a $200,000 state grant. (hh)

Even though the building has been empty for more than a year, the fluorescent tubes in the gable never went out.

Posted in: Commentary, News

2 responses to “‘Pending’? Not any more; depot deal is done”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    I wish the Bennett’s nothing but success, but must ask:

    Should taxpayers be compelled to give a for-profit business $200,000 to renovate an old building?

    This is privately-owned real estate. After the subsidized improvements are made the private owner will accrue all of the economic benefit.

    Why is government picking winners and losers in this way?

    When evaluated against all of the alternatives, is this the highest and best use of public money?

    Abstractions like “historical significance” or “historical preservation” are weak answers to these hard cash questions.

    (BTW, love the photo of the practical, but historically inaccurate fluorescent tubes.)

  2. CHEZZ says:

    This depot is such a wonderful structure. It will be great to see it brought forward to the classic building that it was/is. And Pyburn and Sons have the contract – that means it will be done respectfully and well! I can already smell the good meals coming out of there!
    Yay all around! See you there!


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