Saving this relic may cost the city – Hasso Hering


A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Saving this relic may cost the city

Written August 6th, 2016 by Hasso Hering
The city says it has spent thousands on the old church, but evidently not on this corner.

The city says it has spent $18,000 over the last three years on the former Cumberland Presbyterian Church, but evidently not on this corner

The former Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 124 years old, is in the news again as the city of Albany is trying to decide how to unload the property and get the historic structure restored at the same time.

in February 2015, the city council authorized giving the building at 401 Main St. S.E. to a small charity, Good Samaritan Ministries, for a token $111 after the group said it would make an estimated $157,000 worth of repairs over five years. At the time the council spurned another offer, by an investor who wanted to buy the property for $16,500 and said he would renovate the building for more than $240,000 so it could be rented for weddings and events.

The charity deal never got off the ground.

This past March I talked with Alex Contreras, a native of Costa Rica who runs the Universal Coffee shop in the Carriage House Plaza, across Santiam Road. He and his wife rented the former church for storage. His vision was to turn the building into kind of a cultural center, using coffee, music and art to provide a bridge between Latinos and the rest of the community.

The city bought the property for $150,000 in 2000, using street bond funds, thinking it would be needed for rebuilding Main Street. But the street plans changed and the property became surplus.

On Monday, the council will get a recommendation from the city staff to once again solicit proposals from people interested in buying and doing something with the building. “There may be an impact on CARA or Economic Development funds depending on the structure of the request and direction of the council…,” it says in a staff memo to the council. That sounds like a hint that not only will the street fund not get back the $150,000 spent in 2000 — that much seems obvious — but that disposition of the building will cost taxpayers a chunk of additional cash. (hh)

A side view of the historic structure at Main Street and Santiam Road.

A side view of the historic structure at Main Street and Santiam Road.

11 responses to “Saving this relic may cost the city”

  1. Tony White says:

    Just because a building is old doesn’t mean it’s worth spending a ton of money restoring it. Tear it down, for goodness’ sake, and use the property for something else.

    • centrist says:

      A song is playin’
      “pave paradise, put up a parkin’ lot”
      Given the choice between pavement and a moldering relic, I wouldn’t choose pavement.
      Give me another choice

      • Jackson Cauter says:

        The folks bringing you this plan are the same leaders who banned recreational pot sales even as a majority of Albany voters voted aye on Measure 91. Now, they sheepishly bow their heads as they see tax revenues fleeing to Benton County and small businesses burgeoning in Corvallis while Albany twiddlles it’s thumbs and “saves” another sagging structure. The City Council and the Mayor obsessively fetishize aging buildings.

        Rome burns but their violin plays on.

        • Jacobin Hanschlatter says:

          The council is right to plow a couple hundred grand into this old building. They paid to build a merry-go-round. Why not further blurring of the line between church and state.
          Once the Trumpster gets to Pennsylvania Avenue, the local pols will have their hands full just trying to keep the lights on. Rebuild that old building now. We’ll need it to house the newly homeless when the Trump Economic Plan destroys the nation.

  2. Gothic Albany says:

    Tony, you cold not be more wrong. They don’t make buildings like this anymore, and not restoring this treasure would not only deprive our heritage, it would rob every generation to come after us of theirs.

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      They CAN’T make buildings like this for a reason. Building Codes!
      This is a derelict building and not economically feasible to bring to modern standards.

      Your “heritage” depends on a dump?
      Only CARA would put money into this rat hole. Since it’s NOT downtown, the mayor/council won’t let this happen unless one of their “friends” own it.

      • Brad says:

        Hah, excellent point. Really, there are plenty of beautiful historic churches all over Albany that have actually been taken care of and not abandoned. Clearly nobody needs this one.

  3. Bill Kapaun says:

    Tear it down to improve visibility for Northbound traffic on Main St.
    Improve Main St. from Pacific.

  4. hj.anony1 says:

    Since you asked HH, RNC party rules can declare him unfit. And replace him. Looking very, very bad but……


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