The City Of Astoria has "a deal in concept" with several parties, according to City Manager Paul Benoit, that would see the city able to preserve parking for the Coast Guard on 17th street, enable the reuse of the old armory building and better access for facilities for the Columbia River Maritime Museum.
Benoit told KAST News that the deal came about after the Maritime Museum purchased the former Builder's Supply buildings on Marine Drive with the intention of converting those spaces into archival storage making their use of the Armory no longer necessary. The Armory property along with an adjacent lot was listed for sale. That lot on Duane street provides reserved space for Coast Guard parking in support of the 17th street dock facility so Benoit said it is important for the city to maintain control of that property. In recent weeks a non-profit group formed hoping to buy the armory building and Benoit says under terms of the conceptual proposal the city would purchase the property with a combination of $250,000 cash, land transfers including ownership of a small parcel the city owns next to the newly remodeled Barbey Maritime Center (old Astoria train station) to the Maritime Museum. Benoit said that in addition the city would vacate a portion of Duane street that bisects the Builders Supply property between the main building fronting Marine Drive and the lumber storage sheds behind the Moose Lodge. Benoit says the Moose are part of the discussion to make sure they would still have access to the rear of their building.
While the city's interest comes in protecting the Coast Guard parking Benoit says that the city's ownership of the Armory would be very brief as that property would then be sold to to pay back the city's cash outlay of $250,000. The City Council would have to approve the proposal to move forward. Benoit indicated it could be some time before the entire process is completed. The armory building underwent significant improvements as a storage facility. It's not known how the facility might be used by the "friends" group that wants to purchase it.