A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

With Riley’s closed, building’s future unknown

Written January 12th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

A law firm’s letter addressed to the operators of Riley’s was taped to the Broadalbin Street door of the now-closed bar & grill.

Forty-some years ago, 124 Broadalbin Street in Albany was he address of The Broadway, a fashionable women’s clothing store with a little restaurant on the mezzanine. For the last 20 years it was Riley’s Bar & Grill, which closed after New Year’s, and the historic building’s future now is unknown.

Signs inside the doors on Broadalbin Street and around the corner on Second Avenue thanked Riley’s customers and said the building was being sold. On the Broadalbin door on Jan. 9, there was a letter taped to the glass. It was from a local law firm and addressed to Walt and Janet Relf, operators of the bar & grill.

When I reached him by phone today, Walt Relf said lawyers were involved and he’d been advised not talk about the circumstances.

Linn County tax records show the building is owned by Mike K. Duckett, who according to his newspaper obituary died last Feb. 11 at the age of 61. The records list no new owner. They do show that the county is owed more than $18,000 in taxes on the property for the three years 2017 through 2019.

Riley’s also was where the Albany Elks Lodge met on Tuesday nights. The lodge is working on finding another venue. The member I talked to said the rumor was that the building might be converted to apartments upstairs and retail uses on the ground floor.

At City Hall, officials said no one had filed any site plans or building permits for the property. Nor had there been any inquiries about, let alone requests for, redevelopment aid for the historic structure under the downtown urban renewal program.

The building is in Albany’s Downtown Historic District. In a pamphlet about the district, the Albany Visitors Association says businessman Samuel Young built the structure in 1912 as a clothing store. It was designed by Charles Burggraf, the architect responsible for many of Albany’s landmarks.

Relf told me he was not planning to reopen Riley’s somewhere else. As for the future of the building itself, we will just have to wait and see. (hh)

The scene outside Riley’s on Jan. 5.

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7 responses to “With Riley’s closed, building’s future unknown”

  1. cap says:

    That building housed Albany’s Montgomery Ward Dept. Store at one time, too, and also Hamilton’s Dept Store. Hamilton’s had originated south of that on the same block, closer to the Court House. I believe Hamilton’s was originally in the building that is gone now that was at one time Payless Drug Store, owned by Peyton Hawes who was the father of Suzie Swindells, George Swindells’ wife. George was a vice-president of Willamette Industries, the building materials corporation taken over by Weyerhaeuser.

    Hmmm! Regarding Riley’s, I thought CARA (urban renewal) had benefited everyone downtown. That is the propaganda CARA puts out.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      “…I thought CARA (urban renewal) had benefited everyone downtown. That is the propaganda CARA puts out.”

      Pure hogwash! The improvements obviously do benefit everyone. Nothing guarantees a business venture will ever be successful Of course, if a business never bothers to apply for potentially available assistance, don’t blame the process…

  2. Cap says:

    Now that I think back, there was a letter to the editor a while back about a broken window in the second floor of Riley’s with cardboard that was covering it flapping in the wind. Letter said it didn’t look too prosperous, but that at least we had new lights adorning 2nd Street, paid for with taxpayer’s money via CARA!

  3. Judi DeBord says:

    That building will always be Montgomery Wards to me. My mom and I shopped there, creaky floors and all. I remember it too as The Broadway, where the trendy clothes were more expensive than my family could afford. I hope something good comes along for this wonderful old building.

  4. Jim Engel says:

    Wonder if the City is going to get involved in this transaction? And Ray, don’t include me in your “everyone” when CARA skims off other budgets to line it’s pockets. That light pollution from those downtown street lights is just that, a form of POLLUTION and doesn’t benefit me!

  5. Cap says:

    Kop’ski! Who ordained you the expert on all things Albany? You’re self-ordained, no doubt.


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