the truth about Albany...other suggestions? (Gresham, Corvallis: upper-class, real estate, apartments)
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My husband and I are looking at a move to OR later on this year & have been researching Albany a lot because of the location and housing costs. I've seen a few great comments about Albany on here and some bad. I've also gone off this site looking for more opinions of the area. A lot of people have said that it "has a lot of problems" and is on a downhill slope, etc. What are all these problems Albany has? I can't help wondering why the housing costs would be so great compared to the surrounding areas...So....if anyone who actually lives there CURRENTLY could tell me the pros/cons of the area and how they feel about living there in general - I'd appreciate it!
Also...we are pretty mobile. My husband spent his childhood in Lake Oswego and Gresham and really just wants to come back to OR, but is open to suggestions as far as great/affordable cities to live in w/ temperate climates and a positive/friendly vibe. (Our price range of "affordability" - low $200's and would like to have some space for little ones, so around 1500 sq ft and up...).
Thanks so much for any suggestions/opinions.
I live in Albany (my wife, 2 daughters and I). We've been here for 6 years and really love it. I spent 23 years in the Navy and have lived in lots of major metropolitain cities...and it is nice to live in a small town like Albany.
the people who say there lots of problems here, and Albany is on the downhill slide...while they are certainly entitled to their opinion, it is absolutely NOT my experience.
Downtown is focused on trying to revitalize, the Carousel project is a big part of that. There is still lots of development going on (an indication that people are still relocating to the area), and the new PepsiCo plant should be breaking ground in 2008. There are plenty of nice, safe neighborhoods in which to live and housing costs are reasonable (although they ARE rising slightly).
In Albany right now the dollar per square foot value for homes in that size range is running about $130 (SOLD stats for the past 90 days show an average price of $205K for 1450 to 1650 square feet). Now remember that this does NOT account for age of houses and there are a few fixers in there...but you can get a pretty decent home for less than $220,000.
The schools are (in my experience) pretty good. I have had my kids go through elementary, middle, and high school. Good teachers by and large, responsive administration, and involved parents.
The community itself has a very friendly flavor. It's really hard to make it through town without seeing somebody you know.
All that said, are there problems? Yes. Every town has them I think, but it is somewhat (again, in my opinion) a matter of perspective. If you compare Albany to other areas where you've lived you are going to have a different look at it, aren't you? I grew up in a small town, and lived most of the past few years in big cities...the problems that get talked about in Albany seem pretty minor to me.
I've lived in Albany for about 25 years, and have seen it at worse times than others. Today I think it's a decent area, so I agree with Dave that Albany is not currently on the downhill.
It was sliding downhill at one time, and there is a persistent problem with drugs throughout the Mid-Valley. So it is only fair to give you a fair disclosure.
Back in the 1980's and early 1990's, there was a swelling problem of domestic violence, white supremacy, teen pregnancy, unemployment, and gang crime. Much of it was oriented around boredom, ignorance and mental disorder as much as poverty--the strains of a growing industrial town. A lot of the troublemakers I knew were actually middle and upper-class kids, many of whom aped the gangsta rappers they saw on MTV.
Thus, youth gangs and violence became prevalent. These consisted of white males between the ages of 12 and 30, involved prominently in marijuana, LSD, mushroom, and meth dealing, and who were obviously influenced by either gangsta rap culture or white supremecists. These young fellas commited several drug-related murders, and waged a number of turf battles which included stabbings and drive-by shootings. There was also a big problem with random violence committed against strangers on the street, particularly in the vicinity of Pacific Boulevard. On several occassions I ended up in confrontations with disturbed young men who considered "Hello" to be fighting words.
These days, education, law enforcement, social work, and youth entertainment projects seem to have clamped down on much of the criminal activity. A skate park has been built and a number of other parks have been refurbished to give the kids something to do. Police patrols have increased visibily, and they are not afraid to accost people and interview them on the street, as I can attest. A juvenile hall has been built and there is a more active effort to treat criminally disordered youths. The cruisers are organized into proper car clubs and seem to have made deals which allow them to congregate in a more reputable manner, whatever that is--I only know I haven't heard of them acquiring a bad rep these days.
Nevertheless, to this day, both Corvallis and Albany still have a significant meth problem, which corresponds mainly to thefts and burglaries. There have been a number of armed robberies and at least three defensive killings, two by homeowners and one by police.
And there are still neighborhoods that I would avoid. In particular:
>The entire residential district east of Lyons Street and north of Pacific Boulevard, all the way out to the I-5. This is the "Albany Ghetto" of yore, and it includes Albany's most famous "Felony Flats". I do notice, however, that a number of streets and parks in this area have been cleaned up.
>The neighborhoods between Pacific and Geary Steet, along the axis of Queen Street--especially in the vicinity of the railyard and the police station. Though again, they don't seem nearly as bad to me these days.
>The residential blocks along and to the east of Elm Street, in the vicinity of the McDonald's, the Dairy Mart, and the old Safeway. Another set of Felony Flats are located here, among other things. This area is still bad, with plenty of police visits. Ironically, the surrounding neighborhoods are good.
Which brings me to good neighborhoods:
>Most of the downtown historic district. There are some bad spots in the vicinity of Bryant Park, but these too have gotten some work done.
>The neighborhoods south and north of West Albany High School and Memorial Middle School--particuarly south. The northern neighborhoods have some bad patches, but for the most part these giveway to the lovely historic districts.
>The neighborhoods around St. Mary's Church and the Courthouse are particularly nice and particulary expensive.
>The suburbs in the vicinity of Linn Benton Community college. The former Jackson Apartments across from the car dealership are still kind of crappy, but there's new managment. In particular, look at the 53rd Avenue and Morse Lane subdivisions. These neighborhoods are persistent targets of car burglaries, just so you know.
It's been a while since I've roamed the streets as a troublemaking youth myself, so I cannot testify with certainty that things have changed for the better. I would take with a grain of salt anybody, including police officers, who claim that Albany is the kind of town where you can leave your door unlocked and your guns locked up.
But like Dave, I would also be suspicious of anybody who claims that things are worse--these days we don't have mentally-ill drunks burning down historic churches, psychopaths throwing cinderblocks through windshields on the I-5, or drug-related car bombings. All of that happened during the Ronald Reagen years, thank you very much; I wouldn't be living here for 25 years if things were so bad!
Last edited by woerkilt; 09-23-2007 at 06:39 PM..
Reason: Formating errors
I'm no real estate expert, but housing costs in Albany might be down due to positive factors. Corvallis has been enforcing a small town thing for years, and since it is built into the foothills of the Coast Range it doesn't have a lot of room to expand if it wanted to.
Although Albany is an industrial town, it is also an agricultural hub of the Mid-Willamette Valley. So it has space and money to grow, whereas a lot of the surround towns seemed to be hemmed in by mountains, hills, and zoning laws!
Albany has been expanding consistently for over a decade, especially in response to Californian immigration. North Albany, 53rd Avenue, and the properties along the I-5 seem to be the big boomers right now. My own neighborhood is filled up at the moment, and new homes were relatively expensive: $250,000 to $350,000.
This, in turn, may help to uncut rental home prices, or at least it did back around 2001; I knew landlords then who complained about lowering their rents in order to attract tenants. As a bedroom community, Albany has historically been a rental home town, but I notice a lot of these homes have been refurbished and put on the market.
Again, I am not an expert, just speaking from personal observation.
I actually live in the neighborhood that woerkilt was talking about off of 53rd. It is a great neighborhood; lots of families, older couples/retirees, young couples without kids...a great mix.
some sections are a little "on top" of each other, but it has a nice curb appeal and a great sense of community.
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