A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Renovation under way at the ‘old City Hall’

Written March 15th, 2023 by Hasso Hering

The Federal Building had its windows covered with plastic on March 10, 2023.

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)

12 responses to “Renovation under way at the ‘old City Hall’”

  1. Cap B. says:

    I’m tired of 20 plus years of the acronym CARA (Central Albany Revitalization Area/Agency). I’ll just call it Lepman C, which stands for Lepman Conglomerate, from now on. You are right, Hasso, in saying, “How all this plays out, who knows?” But, I enjoy your photos. All your years in the newspaper business shows in your excellent photos.

  2. Ray Kopczynski says:

    Since ANYone who has the expertise, can (could have) bid for CARA projects over the many years since inception, I’m very happy that Albany has the people (aka Scott Lepman) and his enterprises to bid and complete them.

  3. Gary Blacklock says:

    Great to see Scott doing such wonderful developments in the city

  4. CHEZZ says:

    It’s a great building! I am glad to see the work has started. Hope there will be some information provided on the main floor and/or photos about the historical use and significance of the building. No demo here!

  5. Richard Vannice says:

    Hasso – your report brings back the memory of a beautiful bright Sunday morning in downtown Albany, I can’t recall the time of day, but there was no traffic moving on 2nd Ave.,
    The entire complement of personnel from APD (Chief of police down to the dog catcher and meter maid, were assembled at the “Old” City Hall/Police station about 1/2 block west of the “Federal Building” for a move to the “New” City Hall/Police station.
    This involved using hand trucks to move file cabinets loaded with files, evidence, desks, chairs, etc. from building to building. There was no cost for a moving van or other equipment as was the case in the next two moves.
    Chief of Police at the time was Robert M. Burkhart and when the move was complete, phones, radio, and electronics were operational he took the entire department, excluding a dispatcher and a skeleton cadre of patrol officers, next door to The Linton House where he bought breakfast for the department. Those who “manned the fortress” were relieved and ate as the first group finished.
    Those people were a great group that I was proud to have worked with for 27 years.

    • Andrea S says:

      Thank you for sharing this day in history. You’ve written it well such that I can picture the parade of hand trucks and filing cabinets moving down the street! What a day!

  6. WW&WW says:

    Lepman demolishing the old Sears warehouse while renovating the old post office is a bit of a “look over here while I rob you over there” tactic. Not sure what I think about it…

  7. Cap B. says:

    “That should clear up your thinking”…Wow, you still have that Hasso “bite” to what you say.
    Those working for you back in the day at the D-H probably knew how to read your expression and get out of earshot!!

  8. CHEZZ says:

    Mr. Vannice, thank you for the memories of the several moves the Albany PD has made through the years. Imagine the first move with hand trucks! I hope this photo you mention emerges as part of the history of our former City Hall. And, thank you Mr. Vannice, and all our officers, for your service to our community, before you and in our future!

  9. Julz says:

    I remember in the late 60’s, early 70’s of a post office being on Queen Ave in the building where a laundromat and Jacopetti’s is now.


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