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Albany supermarket site may soon become apartments

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What used to be a site of a grocery store may soon be an apartment complex in Albany.

Owners of the former Mega Foods supermarket are asking the city to rezone the site to allow for 42 dwelling units. The store closed down more than five years ago after an 18-year run.

The request for the land division, a change in the comprehensive plan, a zone change and approval of a site plan came before the Planning Commission at its meeting Monday, Jan. 23.

Plans call for three buildings of one- and two-bedroom apartments, three stories high on the southside of the 4.8-acre property, owner Sona Athwal said in an interview after the meeting. Athwal is not the original owner of the supermarket but bought the site a few years ago.

As for the former Mega Foods building itself, it will be a separate project: a climate-controlled personal storage unit, Athwal said.

Right now, the building has been a source of woe for the owner as it has been vandalized over the years. Athwal believes an apartment complex will fit in the current landscape of the area, because it is already close to another complex.

In his opinion, there are not enough apartments in the area.

“There’s not a lot in Albany, Lebanon and Sweet Home, and we need more,” he said.

But some planning commissioners are concerned about affordability.

After the meeting, Commissioner Diane Hunsaker said she worried about Albany residents' ability to afford rent at the new apartments. She said that if priced too high, the apartments would be accessible for out-of-state renters, but not locals. 

For Athwal, pricing is still up in the air, but he hopes to keep the price point in the range of other complexes in the area, he said. 

“I’ve lived in this town the last 20 years, and I want to try and help the community. Local people tend to not charge as much for rent,” he said.

Whether some units will be low-income housing or not, is yet to be decided, Athwal added.

He hopes to have the apartments and storage constructed by the end of this year. However, that depends on the approval process, he said.

The Planning Commission unanimously approved the application, sending it to the City Council, which is scheduled to discuss it Wednesday, Feb 22.

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Reporter

Shayla Escudero graduated University of Southern California with a Master's in Journalism. She covers Albany and is passionate about local reporting. She can be reached at Shayla.Escudero@lee.net

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