EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) – Eugene Water & Electric Board (EWEB) took the first step in the transformation of its riverfront property into new development, as the utility has started some of the only demolition work on the site.
Contractors are now working on finishing up demolition of an old vehicle repair shop that sat between the main headquarters building and EWEB’s original warehouse.
The work is part of EWEB’s Riverfront Master Plan which included more than one thousand public comments generated over a four-year period.
EWEB says the old vehicle garage wasn't of much historic value and was more of a hazard and a hindrance to development than anything else. EWEB’s Riverfront Master Plan calls for new parks, plazas and mixed-use retail development.
The demolished shop sat in the middle of a future plaza and a road that will eventually go through the Riverfront property and link up near the new silver Federal courthouse.
After all of the demolition is complete, crews will start some soil rehabilitation work. No new retail development will be built on the site though until there are zoning changes. Currently, the site is zoned only for government use.
“We can't do any of that [development] work until we've gone through the planning commission and the city council with code work. So this is really just working concurrently with that review and approval process so that when we're ready to go, we're as ready as we can possibly be, because people are excited to see something happen, so we're doing what we can in the meantime,” says Jeannine Parisi, a community relations representative for EWEB.
The City of Eugene also has the right of first refusal on all of EWEB’s riverfront property. That means if EWEB were to put the land up for sale, it would first have to offer the City of Eugene exclusive purchasing rights before offering the property to anyone else.
While the vehicle shop was demolished, EWEB says it’s the only building that won’t be salvaged. As part of the master plan, EWEB will keep its 1950s-era warehouse and office building, which was the very first EWEB building.
The historic EWEB steam plant will also be saved as part of the master plan. All of EWEB’s existing buildings will be repurposed and will not be demolished. It will likely be several years before any new businesses or development will go in on the site.
The City of Eugene still hasn’t approved EWEB’s Riverfront Master Plan. However, the Eugene Planning Commission will take up the plan on January 22.