(KMTR) -- Changing the perception that “downtown is the pits,” several new building projects are charging positive attitudes in Downtown Eugene, inspiring some businesses owners to speak out while the major heavy lifting is happening.
Three big projects are changing the landscape of Downtown Eugene in the summer of 2011, including some work that will complete in early fall.
The pit across from the Eugene Public Library, the old “Woolworth Building” pit on Willamette south of Broadway, and the old “Centre Court Building” at the corner of Broadway and Willamette Street are all packed full of yellow tape and construction crews today. Each of the sites will soon have new tenants, new business and a new future.
Work at the old “Centre Court Building” will finish first. The building’s new name is the “Broadway Commerce Center.” Crews have finished a brick skin on the building and spent Thursday, August 11th, 2011, installing glass on the building.
The Broadway Commerce Center will be ready for tenants come October 2011. Once open, it will immediately house Pivot Architecture, also an incubator space for several small businesses.
City planners are also currently looking for a restaurant for the Broadway Commerce Center’s ground floor. As the building is finishing up, Nan Laurance of Planning and Development for the City of Eugene says tenant interest is “heating up” for the new space.
Right next door, a second project is getting underway. The site of the old “Woolworth Building” has started to go vertical. The new “Bennett Building” will be ready for tenants in April 2012. So far, the City of Eugene has committed to occupy a floor of the new building, also, an attorney’s office will be located there.
Owner of the “Olive Grand” olive oil and spice business on Willamette Street in Downtown Eugene, Mike Sires says he’s glad to see the work.
Sires recently wrote an opinion letter to the Register Guard in response to an opinion about “nobody wanting to go downtown.”
“The more people that come down to downtown, we'll see downtown as a place for opportunity rather than, what I've seen, actually in response to, with a letter I put in the paper, 'well no one wants to be down here anyway,' well that's far from the truth, people want to be down here,” says Sires.
“Perception of I think some outlying areas needs to change, but they're not going to change unless they come down here and visit,” says Sires.
The third building project, LCC’s new Downtown Center is building on the former pit across from the Eugene Public Library. The student housing part of the building will be done by August 2012 and classroom space should be finished by December 2012, in time for January 2013 classes.
The Eugene Police Department is also in preliminary talks to put a new office in the new LCC building. As part of EPD’s new philosophical shift in how it uses its resources, preliminarily, the idea is for a more “untraditional” type of substation to be installed there. As the building comes further along, EPD says it will get a better idea of whether or not it will move into the building.
Another big construction project, the Inn at the 5th hotel at the 5th Street Market is slated to open this fall season.
By the end of the year, two more projects from Master Development will begin downtown to bring more apartments to the area. Master Development is planning to turn the old Taco Time building on the corner of Broadway and Willamette into an apartment complex, along with old Eugene Public Works building on Pearl Street, next to Full City Coffee.