EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) – On the heels of a major development proposal in downtown Eugene, city planners are highlighting more redevelopment successes currently underway.
City planners who focus on downtown Eugene say along with the new $67 million development proposal at 6th Avenue and Oak Street, other projects are helping unify business and expand the reach of downtown Eugene's core.
Eugene's city planners have been working on redeveloping the downtown core for more than ten years. One of the biggest factors came in 2001 when Eugene City Council voted to reopen traffic on Broadway Avenue near Willamette Street. The area used to be a pedestrian mall and completely closed off to cars.
Over the past two years, private developers have helped complete a remodel of the Broadway Commerce Center at Broadway Avenue and Willamette Street, the Woolworth Building on Willamette and construction of a new Lane Community College campus at the site of what used to be called the 'Sears pit' at 10th and Olive Street.
Planners now point to five major projects currently underway that are helping to link all of downtown Eugene's various pockets.
One of the most visible projects is the new Broadway Lofts building, also known as 1st on Broadway, at the corner of Broadway Avenue and Willamette Street. The building used to house a Taco Time fast food restaurant. Recently, contractors unveiled a totally new facade for the building. When complete, the Broadway Lofts will have sixteen apartments, the new Bijou Metro Theatre and a new bar called the 1st National Tap House, an homage to the building's first life as the First National Bank.
6th Avenue and Oak Street is where many are feeling the latest momentum. Tuesday, Eugene businessman Brian Obie unveiled his proposal for the 'Market District', a plan to redevelop a plot of land owned by Lane County. Obie is proposing to build two new mid-income apartment buildings, one low-income apartment building, a movie theatre, a grocery store, pavilion space and a new hotel on property between Pearl and Oak Streets.
“Brian Obie's new proposal for the county property is a reflection of opportunities that are appearing in the market,” said Nan Laurence, a Senior Planner for the City of Eugene.
Laurence says the Market District would also likely help catalyze EWEB's Riverfront redevelopment. That project is currently in front of the Eugene Planning Commission. With redevelopment happening in the center of downtown, near 5th Street and along the Willamette River, Laurence says finally there's strong evidence showing that the city's plans to revitalize downtown are coming full circle, linking all of the pockets with unique, accessible, vibrant activity.
"What's we're seeing is essentially multiple hot spots downtown, centers of activity where people come for one activity and find themselves doing something else. Come for a meeting and stay for coffee. Come for a show and have dinner or come to stay at the Inn at the 5th and find yourself strolling down Fifth [Avenue] and stopping in at the stores,” said Laurence.
Laurence also points to two other important projects underway downtown. The Hilton Hotel on 6th Avenue and Willamette Street recently announced it would do an extensive remodel. Also, developers continue work on the Capstone student housing complex at 15th Avenue and Olive Street. By the end of 2014, more than 300 apartments should be open there.
Over the last year, more than a dozen new businesses have committed to downtown Eugene by either opening shops or moving offices there. Laurence says the redevelopment downtown is encouraging, saying ultimately the economic health of the region depends greatly on the success of downtown Eugene's core.