Renovation of a downtown Albany landmark is now under way after years of the building standing empty.
It’s the old City Hall at 240 Second Ave. S.W., also called the Federal Building because it was built as the Albany Post Office in 1913.
As near as I can figure out from various sources, it remained the post office for 50 years. What is now the Postal Service moved out when the new post office was built in 1963.
That’s when the Albany city government including the police department moved into the old building. But the city didn’t stay long. The council moved its chambers and various offices to the newly built Two Rivers Mark across Broadalbin Street in the 1980s.
The police moved out of City Hall in 1988, and the council eventually sold the building. The new owner opened various businesses including a book store and a scuba diving shop. He also erected a radio tower that led to prolonged dispute with the city over zoning rules.
In 2016, the building was acquired by Glorietta Bay LLC, one of Scott Lepman’s companies.
Last year, Lepman and the downtown urban renewal district, CARA, agreed on a program to fix up the Federal Building along with the former St. Francis Hotel.
On a bike ride last week, I noticed activity at the Federal Building. By email, Candace Ribera of the Lepman organization filled me in:
“The Federal building was tested for lead based paint. The exterior is currently being pressure washed to remove paint and graffiti… In the interior, we are in the process of removing walls to conform with our floor plan layout. We believe that we have come up with an optimal floor plan that will accommodate Scott Lepman Company in the near future while providing a floor plan that has been designed to accommodate four separate businesses within the building. We will be installing an elevator in the building to allow easy access to all floors.”
Lepman has said that when his company moves into the Federal Building from the old Sears warehouse at Ferry and Water, he hopes to tear down the warehouse to make room for something else. He has talked about a hotel/apartment building if the city builds a parking garage nearby.
How all this plays out, who knows? But for now, it’s good to see work going on to restore the old City Hall. (hh)