A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Riverfront idea: A little Pike Place

Written September 23rd, 2017 by Hasso Hering

Calvin Bontrager with an image of what he’d like the outside of the “Albany Garage” to look like.

The one-story building at the southeast corner of Water Avenue and Hill Street doesn’t look like much. But it could become an attraction on the Albany riverfront if a contractor carries through with a concept he showed the downtown urban renewal board last week.

Calvin Bontrager owns the general contracting company called JDR for “Just Done Right.” He is leasing and intends to acquire the former garage at 135 and 139 Hill St. N.E., which county tax records say was built in 1940.

His concept, as he explained to the advisory board of the Central Albany Revitalization Area on Wednesday, is to turn the place into a smaller version of Seattle’s Pike Place Market. He would call it the “Albany Garage.”

Inside the remodeled building, Bontrager envisions a large open space with seating and a see-through fireplace surrounded by four shops for artisans (he mentioned a glass blower), a couple of offices, an indoor food truck, two offices, a public restroom, and space for an all-year farmers’ market. He showed the CARA board drawings and illustrations done by Albany architect Don Johnson.

One hurdle is parking. What parking is available in the area is usually taken up by customers of the Calapooia Brewing Co. across Hill Street. But there’s an unused parcel of city-owned land in the middle of the Edgewater Village development across Water Street. The city obtained the land several years ago as part of a franchise agreement from the BNSF railroad, and Bontrager now hopes the site will become a parking lot. Not having parking available, he told the CARA board, would be a “deal breaker” for him.

Bontrager hopes for help with his project from CARA, but he hasn’t yet filed an application. His informal presentation, though, got a favorable reception. “This is really exciting,” said Mayor Sharon Konopa, who was happy to see someone willing to invest in the riverfront area. (hh)

The story has been edited to use the proper term for that Seattle market. Thanks to the commenters below who had a fit because the original mistakenly added an apostrophe and s to the name.

The old garage is across Hill Street from the Calapooia Brewing Co., a popular restaurant.





32 responses to “Riverfront idea: A little Pike Place”

  1. James Engel says:

    Me thinks this a terrific idea but maybe a “bridge too far” (WWII military disaster). Being quite a ways outside the build up for downtown is a real stretch. Even if it’s a better mouse trap would people beat a path to his door?? Too bad he can’t get with the property owner of the building at Water & Ferry to do the same thing to keep it “downtown”…..JE

    • GinnyJ says:

      Terrific idea however, the building that you speak of is Lepman Properties and is full of maintenance equipment, work space, etc. I would imagine they’d have to move in order for the Albany Garage to set up shop.

  2. hj.anony1 says:

    A for effort?

    “Little Pike Place” … Micro Pike maybe. Description sounds nothing like Pike Place Market to me but hey. Hope the indoor food truck vents outside.

    I also hope for a follow up story HH. Maybe close ups of all the artist renderings.

    Yes, A++ for idea & vision!

  3. Christopher says:

    Next we will need a short run train down Water Street between the ‘Albany Garage’ and the carousel and Monteith Park to make it destination.

  4. Sherry Leighton says:

    I am so hoping Mr. Bontrager gets to fulfill his vision! This would be such a great addition to the enhancement of the area!! Another way to revitalize!

  5. Trip Edgerton says:

    Nice idea, but it’s Pike Place Market.

  6. Joe Koenen says:

    Pike Place. There is no apostrophe. Pike street ends at 1st Avenue, and turns into Pike Place. The Farmers Market is on the street named Pike Place. There is no Mr. Pike.

  7. Seattleite says:

    It’s PIKE Place, goddammit, not PIKE’S.

  8. Rich Kellum says:

    How loud would the screams be if the City gave up property so 2 businesses could have parking……….. HJ, James, Howling, HH, ????? I think you could hear the screams from Salem, Now if we SOLD it so others could make parking…….. that is another story, there would still be screaming, but then I would agree with doing it.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Might be worth remembering that the city government did not buy this property. It was more a case of extortion — the property in return for a franchise agreement.

      • Rich Kellum says:

        since when did that ever stop government from doing anything????????

        • Hasso Hering says:

          My point was that since the city government has nothing invested in this property, it might want to keep making it available for public parking.

          • Rich Kellum says:

            I realize that, but somebody has to spend the money to build the parking lot, that is not free :)

          • Hasso Hering says:

            People have been parking there for years, in the dirt. All it would take to improve the facility is a little gravel, and that would be it. (Unless various regulations and development standards get in the way.)

          • Rich Kellum says:

            Have you people lost your minds???????????? Name a place where a gravel parking lot is now acceptable to be built in Albany. First it has to be paved, then you forget all the new regulations on storm water that will have to be put in place. Detention facilities filter media, plants of a desirable type and style, Don’t forget to stripe it and before you do that make sure you have a permit to stripe it….. I’m having too much fun here…

          • John Jay says:

            “I enjoy talking to you. Your mind appeals to me. It resembles my own mind except that you happen to be insane.”
            ― George Orwell, 1984

          • John Jay says:

            From the Albany Comprehensive Plan 6-6…

            4. Developments, including parking lots, will be required to prepare drainage plans and provide drainage…

            5. Develop Development Code standards and administrative policies for the review of drainage which include

            the following criteria:
            a. Emphasize the use and improvement of natural drainageways.

            Wouldn’t putting gravel down be the ultimate in use of “natural drainageways”?

          • Rich Kellum says:

            John Jay, please find a new parking lot that is gravel in the downtown area……

    • hj.anony1 says:


      Christ….. if I knew you …surely I would think differently but you seem to be the definition of a curmudgeon! You know! The ultimate naysayer ….always banging on the fail point.

      You really should have some vision yourself. Forward vision that is! Better yet, you need a seat challenger!

      Thanks for addressing several of us in your comment btw.

      • John Jay says:

        Keep it civil, love this idea of a market. We’re doing good as a community, lots of upward momentum. Knife River – 10 yards 3/4 gravel $267, Albany Rental $100 for a Bobcat spreader, we can make things happen as a community, don’t have to spend a million dollars everytime we want to get something done.

      • GinnyJ says:

        Spot on!

  9. Theresa Santoro says:

    It is Pike Place Market…not Pike’s Place…sloppy

  10. Tony White says:

    Sounds pretty good as long as the city doesn’t mess it up with taxpayer subsidies. Let the free enterprise system decide what works.

  11. HowlingCicada says:

    Can we step back a minute and take a broader look at parking?

    Electric power costs money to generate and deliver. Customers pay for the amount used, in fact at a higher unit price when using more because adding new capacity is very expensive. If my landlord or city government included the cost of power in my rent or tax, I might be inclined to either waste it or feel resentful toward others wasting it – clearly a perverse incentive.

    Why should parking be any different? Parking space costs money to build and maintain, including the cost of land and the opportunity cost of not putting it to better use – doesn’t matter if it’s a garage, a lot, or on-the-street. Likewise, there is a very high incremental cost if you need to widen streets or tear down buildings.

    Free parking is an extortion racket similar to credit cards – the customer gets something “free” for which the merchant pays and in turn raises prices to everyone whether or not they use the service (cheers to Winco for not accepting credit cards). Free parking creates a perverse incentive by encouraging car use and discouraging alternatives, thereby increasing congestion, pollution, degradation of urban ambience, and demands for exorbitant infrastructure expansion in a vicious circle.

    When parking isn’t free, then private enterprise can take the opportunity to make a profit, or city government can have a revenue source to fix crumbling roads, or both. Wonderful, new ideas to enhance urbanity, like Bontrager’s, become more feasible when parking is sustainably outsourced.

    The right way to charge for parking is the congestion-pricing model, which results in parking being quick and easy to find almost any time and a reduction in road congestion.

    Better living through smart economics.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Are you suggesting they put the parking meters back in? The meters that Albany tore out in the 1970s in a futile attempt to help downtown compete against outfits with big parking lots out on the highways?

      • HowlingCicada says:

        Parking meters downtown?

        DictatorCicada says outlaw free parking in all commercial areas and work with residential neighbors to prevent fee avoiders from parking in residential areas. If government can, for reasons arguably either beneficial or bogus, force stores to charge for paper bags, why shouldn’t it be able to apply similar rules to parking? The answer to your question then is obviously yes.

        Back in 2017 Albany, the answer is probably no. Much more to say but out of oomph.

  12. Dave says:

    We are talking about bike parking, right?

  13. Jerry Boydston says:

    I like the idea but it is a really small space for a public market. As phase II of Edgewater proceeds that whole area will be improved and the city parcel across from the Calapooia suddenly becomes more valuable.


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