A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Restoration downtown: An update

Written December 8th, 2015 by Hasso Hering
This is the "before" photo. Wait for "after" when the Century Building is restored.

This is the “before” photo. Wait for “after” when the Century Building is restored.

You’re looking at part of the front of the Century Building in downtown Albany, at 117-123 First Ave. N.E., and it won’t look this shabby for long. According to plans reviewed by the Albany Landmarks Advisory Commission on Tuesday, it’s about to be restored to its former glory.

Well, glory might be the wrong word. The building was constructed in 1905, with a restaurant and barber shop on the ground floor and a hotel named Mabel’s upstairs, and the report to Landmarks said the hotel was reputed to house, ahem, a house of ill repute.

The hotel was destroyed by fire about 1940 and replaced with a roof to yield a one-story building. The report to Landmarks on the condition of the building and plans to fix it up said: “In some places three ceilings were removed to discover the still existing second floor of ‘Mabel’s’ and bright pink floral wall paper that suggests the rumors might be true.”

Last June, current owner Rick Mikesell got approval of a 20-year Albany urban renewal loan of $500,000 toward completely restoring the building, a project he estimated at the time to cost around $1.2 million. Judging by the report to Landmarks on the sad condition of the structure’s exterior, I would not be surprised if the restoration ends up costing more. Some of the windows and exterior doors were found to be beyond saving, but according to architect Bill Ryals, every effort will be made to restore what can be salvaged and replace the rest with materials as close to the original as possible. (hh)

As for the details of the restoration, the Landmarks staff report sums it up: “Alterations are proposed on the north, south, and west elevations. Alterations to the south façade include removal of the c. 1970 metal “cheese-grater” siding; replacement of the c. 1970 aluminum storefront with a wood sash storefront; repair and replacement of stucco finish on the fascia and the addition of a reinforced plaster cornice, pilaster capitals, and medallions; cultured stone pilaster bases; and steel awnings with lighting and sign supports. Alterations to the north and west elevations include replacement and restoration of existing windows and doors within the existing openings to match or be similar to the original 1905 or 1940’s appearance, and the addition of lighting and signage.”

7 responses to “Restoration downtown: An update”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    A rich developer gets richer with public money.

    And money gets siphoned away from the purposes voters intended (Linn County services; Vet’s Home; schools; 4-H; fire; police; library; parks; local option levies approved before Jan 2013; local bond levies approved before August 2013).

    Voters have determined what the highest and best use of every public dollar should be. It didn’t include renovating a former whore house.

  2. Oldtimer says:

    Great. The City was progressive in the 60’s and 70’s and ashamed of all the old appearing buildings especially in the downtown area. It promoted taking off the roof of the First National Bank at First and Broadalbin and removing the old historic but ancient looking buildings all the way to Ferry. The Pix Theater building got a new modern plastic facade to great applause. Now the original style of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s is appreciated again and precious view remain. Even the original Democrat herald Building is a beautiful Parking Lot next to modern Two Rivers City Building.

  3. tom cordier says:

    Another example of Urban Renewal giving special treatment to an insider–called crony capitalism. All the taxing districts Gordon cites are paying for this kind of gov’t funded expansion. The fact that Albany voters were never even asked to approve the formation
    of CARA is bad enough–the City’s determination is that voters shall never have any say
    about UR funding/spending forever is worse. New State legislation is needed to fix this
    great Albany give away. Rep Olson needs to get engaged.

    • Gordon L. Shadle says:

      I have my doubts about Rep Olson. He seems to be just another “go along to get along” Republican. He hardly qualifies as a pressure valve for Albany taxpayers seeking to release pent up frustration at a state law that enables the scoundrels in city hall.

      I doubt Olson even knows what TIF means. I doubt he even cares that state law authorizes a financing method that violates the will of local voters. I doubt he is even aware of the need to “remedy and make right” (as the city referred to it) an urban renewal financing tool that negatively impacts local taxing districts.

      Sorry, Tom. Reach out to Olson if you must. Just don’t hold your breath that he will even acknowlege your appeal.

  4. Bob Woods says:

    “And while conservatism slowly sinks into the sea aboard the B.S.Trump, we bid a quick adieu to these relentless purveyors of discord, falsity and a staunch determination to take the country back to the 1700;s, all while they decry the preservation and revitalization of the city heritage of the 1800 and 1900 hundreds.

    Never in the history of the world have so few, said so much, and had such little effect.

    And for that we give thanks in this holiday season [Hanukkah, Kwanza, Christmas, Flying Spaghetti Monster – take your pick, I don’t want to be treated like Starbucks] that the city is a better place than it was, and will be better still in the future.”

    PS. Lowe’s sure is looking good. I bet a lot of people are happy getting those jobs. Of course, you all were against that too. Waste of city money… blah, blah, blah….

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Who’s “you all,” Bob? I don’t remember anybody among our readers being against Lowe’s. If there were complaints, they were about the long time it took and the complications that needed to be overcome to get approval. (hh)

      • Bob Woods says:

        You started this in 2012, so it’s fair to say they it did not happen here. To that end you are correct since the Lowe’s project was well before that.

        However I distinctly remember lots of conservatives being mad that the City put up the money to front improvements to help this “Private” project move forward.

        While you have been supportive of community improvements, Libertarians and other far-right conservatives have steadfastly opposed government participation of any kind in fostering growth and revitalization projects.


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