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Action in abandoned houses: Second Street drawing interest; townhouses going up on Grant

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Nearly four years ago, the Gazette-Times published a story that noted three abandoned houses in Corvallis. We always meant to update it.

Now, action is brewing on two of the three properties. Here's an update:

502 NW Second St.

This two-story Italianate-style residence is named for Levi Henkle, who came to Benton County from Iowa in 1853. Henkle sold it in 1907 and it has gone through numerous ownerships since.

It’s not clear how long the house has been unoccupied, but the complaint record starts in 1997 and a permit that authorized the demolition of a carport/garage was issued in 2001. 

In recent years the property, which is on Highway 20 across the street from the Old Spaghetti Factory and less than a block from the Chamber of Commerce, has been fenced and featured hand-drawn signs noting that the “historic property” was going to be demolished.

A phone number was listed on the signs. Repeated calls to the number went unanswered. City records show that applications for demolition permits were received in 2016 and 2017 but both expired without any action being taken.

On Wednesday, we noticed a new very professional sign facing Highway 20, which noted that Commercial Associates, one of the larger real estate concerns in town, is now handling the property. So we called broker Dale Kern to get the lowdown.

Kern said that the property has been listed with his firm for about a month with a sales price of $220,000. He said he has received numerous phone calls expressing interest in purchasing the property.

The property is zoned “central business” and Kern noted that a buyer could conceivably run a business on the first floor and live on the second floor.

“It’s a great zone, very versatile,” said Kern said, while adding that one of the things that makes the property attractive is that most of the similar properties in the downtown area are leasable but few are for sale.

Kern also has received calls from folks hoping the structure can be preserved or repaired.

“I’ve been in it,” Kern said. “It’s unsafe, it’s rotten, it’s in rough shape. I don’t even know where to start. The roof is bad, it has no foundation, and there are rats. You could try to rehabilitate it, but it would be way more costly than to just start over” by demolishing it.

The house is listed as a local historic resource, said Kevin Russell of the city’s development services division. In our 2014 story we noted that the Historic Resources Commission would have to be involved before the structure could be demolished.

Kern said he has been getting mixed signals from the city on whether such a requirement exists. Russell could not confirm it, noting that the city’s go-to person on historic structures, associated planner Carl Metz, is on vacation and thus unable to unknot this one for now.

1933 NW Grant Ave.

A one-story bungalow used to adorn the property where Grant does a river-bend turn before it hits Kings. City records show complaint filings on the house since 2006. Ultimately it was demolished in 2015, with two iterations of development following.

First, in 2016, a plan to erect an eight-unit apartment complex on the parcel fell through. Now, the plan is to build three three-bedroom townhouses on the lot. The project is in the public infrastructure phase, with orange caution fencing on the parcel’s perimeter as work proceeds on the sidewalk and sewer.

740 SE Atwood Ave.

This property just east of Highway 99W has a complaint record going back to 1993, according to city officials. It remains unoccupied but does not look marginally different than when the Gazette-Times visited in 2014.

The carport in the back of the large lot is listing a bit more toward the Willamette River, and the lawn, which was covered with leaves during our 2014 viewing, looks good. That said, city records show that the Corvallis Fire Department has been on the site as part of its weed abatement program.

Contact reporter James Day at or 541-758-9542. Follow at or


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