Developer has option on Woodland Square

The wooded site along Salem Avenue near Periwinkle Creek holds about a dozen trailers. (David Patton/Democrat-Herald)

The Woodland Square trailer park in Albany, long of concern to neighbors and city officials because of its blighted condition, would give way to 54 apartments, according to a proposal by Innovative Housing Inc.

Last winter the nonprofit Portland developer offered to renovate the former St. Francis Hotel as housing, but city officials turned down its request for development aid.

Now the company has obtained an option to buy the 2.2-acre trailer park bounded by Second and Salem avenues and Pine Street S.E.

“If successful, we plan to close the mobile home park, remove all the mobile homes and build high-quality, attractive new apartment homes,” said Julie Garver, housing development director for the firm.

“Our goal is for this new housing to be affordable to working families in Albany and for the apartment homes to be an asset in the neighborhood to help encourage additional redevelopment in the area.”

Plans so far are preliminary. “There is a long way to go before we know if we have a ‘real’ project,” she wrote, “but we are very excited about the opportunity.”

The firm intends to call a neighborhood meeting soon.

The wooded site, owned by Larry Mathews of Silverton, holds about a dozen aged trailers. Some appear to be vacant. Two years ago neighbors called the place their neighborhood’s biggest liability, according to a report to the downtown urban renewal board in March 2009.

Garver said the site would have 54 apartments with 93 on-site parking spaces, covered bike parking, a playground, and a natural area on Periwinkle Creek, its eastern boundary.

The units would be intended for families at 50-60 percent of median income in Linn County, or between $27,700 and $33,240 a year for a family of four.

The firm’s contractor, Greenberry Construction, has not yet made a firm estimate, but Garver said a rough estimate put the cost at $10.5 million.

Most of the funding would come from private investors using a tax credit program for affordable housing, but Garver said it also would need assistance from Albany’s downtown renewal district.

The project would fit the medium-density residential zoning of the site, said Greg Byrne, Albany’s community development director.

Residents have been informed of the plans in a letter. Garver said most own their trailers and lease the land on which they sit, and “cash benefits will be paid to mobile home owners if this project moves forward.”

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