EUGENE, Ore. — The Eugene City Council gives the green light to redevelop an area in downtown Eugene. The council passed an ordinance Monday night to vacate Mill Alley.
Councilor Mike Clark along with five other city councilors have a different vision for how it could look someday.
“We’re now taking another part of downtown and filling a long empty lot and seeing it thrive more,” said Clark.
They approved an ordinance to vacate a part of Mill Alley between East 8th Avenue and East Broadway to High Street. Councilors voted to sell two alleys for just more than $200,000. While city planners say there aren’t any development permits submitted to their office, the property owner, Broadway and Pearl Associates, plans to build a 50-thousand square foot commercial building, big enough for a Whole Foods.
“It’s obviously in the public interest to facilitate this bare spot of empty land to be filled with a thriving business,” said Clark.
Councilors Betty Taylor and George Brown were both concerned the move would hurt local business.
“It’s pretty likely that it would be a large store,” said Taylor. “It’s likely that it would not be local. And we want to keep the money that’s generated here in the local economy I think.”
“I don’t like it, but what can I do,” said JC Lee. He owns the Noodle Bowl. “You know what I mean. I’m a huge fan of local. I feel like especially in places like Eugene where local stuff, it’s more popular.”
Noodle Bowl Owner J.C. Lee echoes councilors Taylor and Brown’s sentiments. But he can’t argue, he says the increased traffic would help his business.
“It’s going to be better for Eugene and downtown because there’s no grocery shopping around downtown,” said Lee.
Residents who live in the area welcome the idea.
“The highest building out here is probably like what, not even like eight stories or something like that,” said Eugene resident Brandon Greenbaum. “It’s pretty minor on the bigger scale of things. I don’t really see an organization like Whole Foods being the start to the downfall of anything.”
A spokesperson for Whole Foods says the company has had its eyes on Eugene for years, but haven’t signed any leases for a specific site.
There are no concrete plans for building one of their grocery stores in Eugene.