A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Vacant city lot remains, well, undecided

Written January 24th, 2022 by Hasso Hering

The clock was ticking as Russell Hawke, lower left, a homeowner in Edgewater Village, spoke to the council Monday afternoon.

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)

The vacant city-owned lot at Edgewater Village looked like this in May 2020.

7 responses to “Vacant city lot remains, well, undecided”

  1. hj.anony1 says:

    well Hasso…

    Look at those peoples in the thumbnail scale.
    What does 02:52 mean?

    • Hasso Hering says:

      The mayor has instituted a 3-minute time limit for public comment at council meetings. He waived it in this case as the council and Mr. Hawke conversed.

  2. Carol says:

    Just think what a parking lot would do for river rhythms..

  3. centrist says:

    Instead of conclusion-jumping, the Council is sorting out the realities.
    Gummint at work

  4. Floyd Collins says:

    Let’s not be confused, cost of housing is determined by the market place and interest rates. Unless government gets into a rent controlled regulatory program it will always be market controlled and not based upon initial capital investment.

    • centrist says:

      Tend to agree. There’s some gray at the fuzzy edges that provides a finger-pull for a frequent commenter

  5. Miss Ann Thropy says:

    Is this the same city-owned lot you wrote about on July 26, 2020?

    “It’s not a nuisance when, like in this spot, it causes no problems but serves as a haven for bees and other pollinators, which in our growing cities need all the help they can get.”

    I’m with you, Hasso.

    Keep it natural – green, brown, grass & weeds 10 inches tall, buzzing with bees, with an aesthetically pleasing layer of crushed rock.

    Yeah, that’s the ticket.



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