A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

What’s to become of this vacant lot?

Written September 30th, 2022 by Hasso Hering

Looking east across the city-owned lot from the northern end of Madison Street. The Calapooia brewery is in the background at right.

The Albany City Council is getting ready to sell a one-acre lot off the Water Avenue railroad track, a parcel the city managed to get for nothing in 2013.

On Wednesday, the council declared the property at 205 Madison St. N.E. to be surplus, meaning the city has no use for it. It’s the first step toward putting the vacant land up for sale.

No one at City Hall apparently remembered why the city pressured the BNSF railroad to hand over this property. The railroad gave up the lot as part of the setttlement of a city lawsuit, filed in 2008, over a franchise covering that part of its track that runs for a few blocks in the middle of Water Avenue.

The railroad land was supposed to be available for development of the surrounding acreage, which eventually became the 58-dwelling Edgewater Village. But once the city got the parcel, the council never followed through with making it part of that project.

For years, the unimproved lot was accessible via the grade crossing at Hill Street, and people would park there when visiting the restaurant across the street, then Hill Street Brews and now the Calapooia Brewing Company.

The parking area was lost when curbs were installed as part of the Edgewater development.

When the council voted Wednesday to declare the land surplus, members made no mention of how they want the lot developed once it is sold.

The city staff suggested a procedure for the sale. Following an appraisal, the lot would be advertised. Interested parties would present their offers and their ideas for the “highest and best use” of the the property at a public hearing. The council would then retreat behind closed doors for an executive session to discuss what to do.

Why the staff would suggest an executive session to discuss public offers for real estate is hard to say. Except for this: Holding executive sessions not only when it’s necessary to protect the public interest but whenever it’s allowed by law — that’s now the Albany way. (hh)

Parking used to be available from this side — until this end of Hill Street was improved with curbs.

7 responses to “What’s to become of this vacant lot?”

  1. Bill Kapaun says:

    With this current City Council and their proven real estate expertise, one wonders how much they’ll pay someone to take it. Probably the highest bidder.

  2. Sonamata says:

    Is this the property the Edgewater developer wants to buy? Very frustrating this riverfront property is deemed “surplus” when millions of tax dollars are spent on amenities just one mile west. Is the Willamette neighborhood only worthy of absorbing the rental development & density growth that’s blockaded in central Albany?

  3. Sharon Konopa says:

    In my opinion the answer to your question Hasso- What’s to become of the vacant lot? Keep it under public ownership for public parking. This are of the waterfront needs parking. You can’t put a value on the public’s parking lots. Having public parking is way more valuable than the piddly amount the lot is worth. The sale would pay for one year of a staff (or two’s) salary, but keeping this lot for parking can benefit local businesses and patrons of those businesses for years. Or walkers needing a place to park to stroll down our riverfront trail! The City Council shouldn’t waste time on seeking bids. Just put in a parking lot!

    • Sonamata says:

      In the decade I’ve lived in this neighborhood & driven to businesses like Calapooia, parking has never been an issue. There is always abundant street parking. There’s probably a much better use of space in this bike-friendly area which is adjacent to the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway.

    • mike says:

      I’ve never had big issues parking downtown or in the area of Calapooia. Sure I’ve had times where I wasn’t able to park directly next to the business I was going to but could easily find parking within a couple of blocks. No big deal to me. Honestly when visiting this part of Albany I’d rather just take a bus and not even think about parking/driving. Bus line goes right by my house but it’s only in one direction, meaning my return trip will be significantly longer than the few minutes it takes to get downtown. We should make it easier for Albany residents to visit the businesses in this area without need for parking and save the existing parking for out of town visitors. I certainly don’t think selling this lot will somehow fulfill my wishes for better bus service. Though selling the lot would mean we start seeing some tax revenue from it at least.

  4. Bob Gately says:

    A park for the children in the Edgewater development and extra parking would be nice. Don’t need any more crowded apartments along the RR tracks.

  5. Katy Allaback says:

    A park would be an amazing asset to this part of our city. Open space to run, picnic, play soccer, and enjoy the shade of trees. No parking needed!


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