A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Waterfront conversion: Phase 2 approved

Written April 30th, 2023 by Hasso Hering

Beyond the railroad track, there’s the west end of Water Avenue, to be transformed into a “plaza street.”

Albany’s contractor on the riverfront now has the green light to proceed with the second half of the effort, the transformation of about four blocks on the west end of Water Avenue.

Acting as the Albany Revitalization Agency, the city council last week approved the second phase of a contract with K&E Excavating. The price is just under $8.5 million and includes reshaping Water Avenue from Washington to the Lyon Street Bridge, along with rebuilding two viewing piers and a boardwalk to the river.

Together with the $8.3 million first phase, which covers reconstruction of Monteith Riverpark and some work on the Dave Clark Path, this brings the total price of the riverfront project to just under $19.5 million.

The  downtown urban renewal district, CARA, is covering the cost except for the cost of replacing a water line in a section of Water Avenue.

The total includes an estimated $2 million to open or improve eight pedestrian rail crossings and close three. That work will be contracted by the Portland & Western railroad but paid for by the city.

The work on Monteith Riverpark, including a new stage, a children’s splash pad and a renovation of the restroom into four individual stalls with separate doors, is supposed to be completed this year. The reconstruction of the four blocks of Water and the parking lot between the bridges, will take till the end of 2024.

The council/ARA was told last week that CARA had $3.5 million left of its spending authority. All but $750,000 is being set aside for the waterfront project, mostly for the rail crossings.

That leaves $750,000, which ARA has reserved for expenses related to the redevelopment of the Wells Fargo lot when the demolition is finished. When that’s spent, the CARA program stops and property tax revenue will no longer be diverted from other taxing units.

On the waterfront, the city has publicized a rendering of the “plaza street” treatment of Water Avenue. Here’s the rendering:

The designers’ vision of Water as a “plaza street.” This looks like the area at the foot of Broadalbin Street.

The rendering appears to anticipate construction of a multistory building on what for about 50 years has been a city-owned parking lot.

The meaning of this rendering didn’t dawn on me until I took a closer look at it for this story. The intersection is that of Ferry Street and Water Avenue. The image envisions a sidewalk between diagonal parking spaces on the left and a building of indeterminate height on the right.

When I get the chance, I’ll ask the council what kind of development they have in mind for that lot. (hh)

Monteith Riverpark, closed for construction, looked like this last week from a window of the former senior center.




20 responses to “Waterfront conversion: Phase 2 approved”

  1. Bill Kapaun says:

    “The council/ARA was told last week that CARA had $3.5 million left of its spending authority. All but $750,000 is being set aside for the waterfront project, mostly for the rail crossings.”

    There’s always cost over runs and “loose ends” that have to be taken care of. I expect the Mayor/city council to personally make up the difference when the money runs out.

  2. Anony Mouse says:

    “When that’s spent, the CARA program stops and property tax revenue will no longer be diverted from other taxing units.”

    The program may stop, but property tax revenue will continue to be diverted from the other taxing districts until the principal and interest on the TIF bonds are paid off.

    When will this happen? 10 years? 20 years? Enquiring minds want to know.

    • Cap B. says:

      Thank you, Anony Mouse. Maybe Albany could have enough sense to never again fall for the scam to please the top 1% of earners that a urban renewal, increment taxing district is. But, Albany City Council will never have that much sense. The types who like to run for City Council are mostly power hungry, and not enough of them care about “all” the people, including the poor.

  3. Cap B. says:

    Thanks, Hasso, for the picture taken from a window of the “Sr. Center.” That is an awful sight (and site). There are still only a couple of tall deciduous trees by the river, plus a huge expanse of dirt which will soon be filled with a stage and a big concrete pad! Makes me mumble swear words under my breath as I’m typing.

    • L says:

      I agree!! It doesnt even feel like a park anymore. So much for enjoying grass and trees to shade you from the hot sun. Will be spending more time at other better parks.

  4. Jennifer McClean says:

    Check out what Tacoma did on the old land that had a smoke stack on it. Point Ruston is an amazing area of commerce, rentals, condo’s, professional and tourist areas. We need something like this on our waterfront.

  5. Peggy Headrick says:

    Seriously?!!!!!! Last week’s paper said our schools are in trouble and the city still wants to spend, spend, spend and ruin our river, our “BRIDGE TRAFFIC” that the city is WILLING to spend $230,000, on top of the phase 2 money? UNRESPONSIBLE AND UNBELIEVABLE. No wonder people have no respect for elected officials.

    • Cap B. says:

      I completely agree. LBCC is cancelling computer science and law enforcement training..and letting many instructors go. But, our City Coucnil/CARA wants a fancy waterfront. Their idea of a big restaurant in the old J.C. Penney building on 1st St. flopped completely. They could never get someone to put in a restaurant, that is. They turned down low-cost apartments in the old St. Francis Hotel on 1st Street years ago, and it sits there rotting waiting for their favorite contractor to do something with it. That may never happen, and it will wind up being torn down like the bank building. A big restaurant was to go into The Wheelhouse building on the Waterfront; didn’t happen. So, to cover up for all this “bombs,” they now want a brick-laden beautiful Street by the waterfront with no people there, except the homeless. And, what about helping the homeless with some permanent housing for them?

      • JIMCO says:

        So let’s just trash it all and go backwards to the days of smelly Albany and nothing but bars in downtown.
        Good grief, the luddites lost!
        Downtown is vibrant.
        Get off your couch and try one of the fine restaurants this weekend!
        Many new, younger, diverse customers and shops.
        The future is bright regardless of the negative nannies.
        LBCC’s funding issues have zero to do with CARA.
        You do know the first LBCC was downtown correct?
        Quit waiting for the old days of Mary Anna Bakery to return.
        These are the good old days.
        Move forward.
        Good grief.

      • AD says:

        Also, these are completely different funding sources.

  6. Tina Henderson says:

    Might want to clear out the homeless camps first! Nobody can enjoy the view or any part of our river because of the trash and camps! 8.5 million could go a long way to tackle that problem

    • Matthew Calhoun says:

      It’s clear from comments like this that most of you in this blog’s comment section need to get out and take a walk and see for yourself. But i suppose it’s just a lot easier to sit behind your keyboards and regurgitate the same talking points. Have fun with curmudgeondom!

    • Rich Kellum says:

      Tina, being able to see the river was my primary reason for supporting the plan to begin with, underbrush cut back so the homeless can be seen and cleared out, Otherwise we may as well put upgrades around Timber Linn Park.

      • Cap B. says:

        To summarize what you wrote: The main reason you supported the waterfront plan was to cut back the underbrush and expose and get rid of the homeless people. Thanks for admitting, what others won’t, about primarily wanting to “get rid of” homeless people. Those homeless people are “people,” fellow human beings. You have no concern for these people or for the planet. That “underbrush” and the trees were habitat and sustenance for creatures (God’s creatures, if you will) and also helped lessen carbon emissions.

        Those who slam some of us as curmudgeons and worse won’t admit that downtown is only for the elite, and it is not busy. There aren’t that many rich people in Albany, so it can’t be busy. You avoid acknowledging that the J.C. Penney building restaurant, the Wheelhouse restaurant, low-cost apartments in the St. Francis Hotel, and a planned restaurant for the bank building, that lies in ruin, all did not happen. Downtown is a mixed bag, at best, as far as being a success.

        • Ray Kopczynski says:

          “You avoid acknowledging that the J.C. Penney building restaurant, the Wheelhouse restaurant, low-cost apartments in the St. Francis Hotel, and a planned restaurant for the bank building, that lies in ruin, all did not happen.”

          **Those “plans” for restaurants were simply part of the vision by the developers. Not everything in those buildings was to be a “restaurant” by any stretch of the imagination. That they did not happen as originally envisioned by the developer is not a CARA problem. YOU are obviously disregarding the fact that the J.C. Penney & Wheelhouse were fully developed at very large expense by the developers with a much smaller portion from CARA. Both have many tenants – and have for many years now.

          **The St. Francis Hotel idea with “low cost apartments” never did receive CARA funding. It has now been purchased and WILL be developed. The Wells Fargo site is getting close to being “shovel ready” and it too WILL get developed. It is patently irrelevant whether or not it has a restaurant. If that happens great, if not, it’s up to whomsoever the developer may be and their vision.

          “Downtown is a mixed bag, at best, as far as being a success.”
          ** Remembering and considering what was downtown at the inception of the Urban Renewal District, downtown Albany is now eminently more successful. Some folks are simply too blind and/or obtuse to see it IMO…

          • Cap B. says:

            “Blah , blah, blah.” .(Hasso, if I can be called obtuse and blind, surely I can throw in blahs. You have printed blahs before.) You (Ray) say the St. Francis “has now been purchased and ‘WILL’ be developed.” We’ll see. You also say the Wells Fargo site “WILL (your caps; not originated with me) get developed.” Again, we’ll see. I’m not pushing for more restaurants downtown; that was CARA who wanted those. I’m just listing the many restaurants that CARA touted which never came to be. They were approved by CARA; they were not just a “vision by the CARA-hired developers” as you claim. I remember reading that CARA was actively looking for restaurateurs for both the J.C. Penney building and The Wheelhouse, and CARA at one time had Sybaris in mind for the Wells Fargo building. You know that. You just won’t acknowledge it. Weaseling out of things…that’s your M.O.

  7. CHEZZ says:

    Check out the Creating Housing Coalition, Albany Oregon Website. Housing, support, mental health resources and more!

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      Which has nothing to do with the topic of this thread- But that seems to be the norm for you- BTW, it was—-

      Waterfront conversion: Phase 2 approved

  8. Glenn Edwards says:

    Hasso, thanks for your coverage of all things Albany! You are providing such a valuable service by making local development news important.

  9. Drew S says:

    Didn’t the Saturday Market when located on Front street deliver a better environment for patrons and increased revenue for businesses? Maybe the City Council should look into a relocation to Water Avenue. Maybe some of the old and new Saturday Market vendors can get together and do their own study and come up with a 5-year business plan that will increase the number of vendors and revenue for businesses. The saying “if you build it they will come,” it works, only if there’s a good plan and it’s followed to the letter. With a good plan the City just might help with marketing the Saturday Market. It would be a win-win for everyone downtown. Anyone want to chime in about the Saturday Market?


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