The future of a 1-acre vacant lot, owned by the city of Albany in the middle of the Edgewater Village development off Water Avenue, remains uncertain today.
The city staff has asked the city council to consider declaring the property surplus so it can be offered to a developer to build housing, perhaps “affordable housing” under conditions the city would set.
Russell Hawke, one of two homeowners in Edgewater Village (the other residents rent their homes, he said), spoke to the council at Monday’s work session, expressing his concern. And the council decided to take more time before taking up the surplus decision, removing it from the agenda of the regular council meeting scheduled Wednesday.
The city staff proposal was not specifically calling for “low income housing.” It said the council could consider any type of housing, owner-occupied or rentals, but implied that what the staff had in mind would be “affordable” such as “workforce housing.”
Hawke owns a house on the river side of Edgewater Village. When he bought the place a few years ago, he was told the vacant lot was intended for parking.
Parking is a problem in Edgewater Village, Hawke said, because some of the dwellings don’t have much of a driveway. The empty city lot, which Albany got the BNSF railroad to hand over for free in 2013, originally had been used as an unimproved parking lot for the Calapooia Brewery across Water Avenue. Street construction for Edgewater made that impossible, so now customers often park on the curb within the development.
For years Hawke has made regular cleanup runs in his neighborhood, picking up trash up and down the Dave Clark Path and Water Avenue, and council members thanked and commended him for this.
The trash and homeless camps along the river have been a challenge to him and his neighbors, Hawke told the council, and he is worried that the city’s development of the lot might make things worse, attracting more problems to the riverfront and devaluing his house.
Councilman Dick Olsen said he was disappointed that the lot had not been included in the design for riverfront redevelopment that was prepared by Portland consulting firm Walker Macy. The staff said it was left out because the city had not decided how to use the land.
A few years ago, the owner of a warehouse at Hill Street and Water Avenue, across Hill from the brewery restaurant, spoke to the CARA urban renewal board about turning the space into an indoor marketplace. The idea has not surfaced again, but if it ever does, it too would need off-street parking.
We will hear about this lot again. When that will be is up to the council and the city staff. (hh)