Eugene city officials and principals of a Portland developer have negotiated the proposed terms of an agreement to redevelop the downtown riverfront property.
The proposed terms, if formalized in an agreement, would require the city to invest millions of dollars in public improvements to the former utility operations yard to land an estimated $100 million in private investment and realize the decades-old goal of reconnecting Eugene’s downtown with the Willamette River.
Eugene officials announced the proposed terms with Williams/Dame & Associates, whose principals are known for their work in Portland’s Pearl District and South Waterfront, after nearly nine months of negotiations during Tuesday evening’s City Council meeting.
The presentation launched the city’s campaign to solicit public comment on the proposed terms, which includes a June 20 open house and a City Council public hearing five days later.
City councilors may direct City Manager Jon Ruiz in early July to sign a formal development agreement with Williams/Dame.
City councilors didn’t raise major concerns with the deal points during a brief discussion following the presentation.
Councilor Chris Pryor did say he wanted to secure as much public benefit from the proposed development as possible while still keeping it economically viable.
“I know that’s a delicate balance and sometimes it’s something that you really have to negotiate,” he said.
Under the proposed terms, Williams/Dame would purchase roughly half of the 16-acre riverfront property that the city purchased from the Eugene Water & Electric Board for $5.75 million last month.
The developer would pay about $2.7 million for the unimproved land and commit to build 215 apartment, 70 townhouses and a 125-room hotel on it. The city would lease to Williams/Dames two parcels for 14,000 square foot of commercial space and a restaurant.
Williams/Dame intends to seek a tax break under the city’s Multi-Unit Property Tax Exemption program for the apartment units, city officials said.
Denny Braud, the city’s planning and development director, said the developer has indicated City Council approval of the tax break would be “critical … for moving forward.”
The city would sell a parcel on the property to another developer for an affordable housing project with at least 75 units.
The estimated cost to build roads and utilities to serve the development is about $15.5 million, with Williams/Dame paying half, and the city and affordable housing developer picking up the other half. The owner of the individual parcels would pay for the sidewalks.
The city would develop and maintain a one-acre public plaza that would complement the three-acre riverfront park that is currently being designed. The cost to develop the park and plaza is unknown at this point.
Williams/Dame would own, develop and maintain a smaller parcel of open space under the Ferry Street Bridge Viaduct that could be a used for sports courts or a dog park.
The proposed timeline calls for the first building on the property to be completed in 2020, with the infrastructure and riverfront park finished the following year.
Separately, the city is seeking a buyer to redevelop the vacant steam plant that was left out of the negotiations between the city and Williams/Dame.