EUGENE, Ore. — The University of Oregon is spending more than $8 million to help improve the lives of its student population.
Residents at Columbia Terrace on Columbia Street between 17th and 19th avenues were forced to move out earlier this year so that the university could get started on what it’s saying is a long overdue development project.
Neighbors say the metal fences went up just over a week ago. And while you can barely see what’s going on behind the black netting, the university says it has nothing to hide.
“We are going to be building a central kitchen, which will house a combination of the catering kitchen and the current central kitchen, which will be providing food and meals for the students that live on campus,” said Michael Griffe, UO Director of Housing.
The eventual 25-thousand square foot space will also continue to house a woodshop where damaged or broken furniture from various housing facilities can be repaired. The university says it’s something they’ve been planning for decades to meet the needs of its growing population.
“The timing came together. Some of the properties that were there were beyond feasible repair,” Griffe said.
But while the school is excited to getting things started, there were some people living nearby who weren’t looking forward to the big changes to come.
“The property that they plan on clearing out, there’s neighboring people there, so I mean that means construction, loud noises, distractions and all that so. Yeah, I mean I can understand why that would bother the people living right next to it,” said neighborhood resident Henry Christian.
But the university says it’s been working to minimize conflicts with its neighbors.
“We involved the neighborhood association in what we’re going to be doing and have sent letters and personally spoken to property owners directly adjacent to that property,” Griffe said.
And they say that line of communication will remain open as the project continues.
Demolition was supposed to take place at the end of this year, but the school says they are still searching for a design and construction team. So, you won’t see any actual work on the property until sometime next year.