EUGENE, Ore. — Lane County Commissioner voted Tuesday to move forward a multi-million dollar project proposal to develop property at 6th Avenue and Oak Street.
While the details aren’t yet set in stone, most of the county commissioners, project heads and even some citizens are excited about what the project could mean for the county and city.
The feeling on the corner of 6th Avenue and Oak Street has been quiet for quite some time, but that could change as early as 2015.
With a vote of four to one, county commissioners moved forward with turning the now-empty lot into an extensive retail and housing complex.
Now the county administrator can start negotiating a short-term lease with the proposal’s writers, the housing and community services agency of Lane County and Fifth Street Public Market Developer Brian Obie.
“We need to move this community forward. This is a big step. Adding the Inn at the 5th made a big difference in perhaps how people feel about this community, and I think this will as well,” said Obie.
The $67 million project would include affordable housing, a theater, a grocery store and a new hotel, just to name a few features.
“When we completed the public safety survey, the other component was to have a strong economic development message and I think you can see that this board is really trying to put that forward,” said Sid Leiken, Lane County commissioner.
But supporters say the project’s benefits go far beyond that.
“I think the intangibles will be the biggest gain we have as a city. I think that the economic gains will be there and be a wonderful bonus for us, but I don’t see that as the reason for doing this though,” said resident Jim Schmidt.
The city’s reason to do it, to resuscitate a downtown that’s been struggling for years.
While the project seems to have come out of nowhere, the county says there was a public hearing about the property just a few months ago. The county has moved forward with this proposal and says there will be plenty of opportunities for public input.