EUGENE, Ore. -- Major construction continues in downtown Eugene for the $9.8 million Park Blocks Pavilion and Plaza project.
A new city pavilion will be built, and it will be a permanent home to the Lane County Farmers Market. The market will be there on Tuesdays and Saturdays and will run year-round.
KEZI talked to Will Dowdy, who works in the community development division and is the project’s lead.
“When it's all said and done, it's also going to be a public venue and so we are looking for opportunities to have all sorts of activities here,” Dowdy said.
The new space will be about the same size as the other existing park blocks to the south -- a venue a bit larger than 8,000 square feet.
The market will be an indoor and outdoor space, increasing the number of vendors allowed.
“It’s going to allow the farmers market to be here with lots of room to grow,” Dowdy said. “So they'll be able to be here all seasons and also as many days as they need to be, growing to whatever size capacity they need.”
Jon Bertolone is the founder of Nourish in Eugene. They’ve been around since 2013 and at the farmers market ever since.
“I think it’s amazing,” Bertolone said. “Hopefully it sets a precedent for other artisans and farmers markets in the area and nationally and serves as a model of what is possible.”
Philip Smith with Blessed Bee Honey shared his thoughts.
“I like the idea of a year-round market and being able to be inside if the weather is such," Smith said.
Initial demolition began between May and June, but the street work began just weeks ago.
“The Lane County Farmers Market and the Saturday Market are such beloved institutions in Eugene that we have received lots and lots of support from people who are excited about the new facility going in and excited about the opportunity for growth for the farmers market,” Dowdy said.
Dowdy said there have been some concerns from those who live and work around the construction.
“We’re working really hard with our team to mitigate any negative impacts they're seeing, and the communication has been really good, so mostly we're hearing really positive hopes for the future.”
Dowdy also weighed in about the parking situation that many community members had questions about.
“Right now, we've got quite a bit of capacity in our existing parking garages that are nearby,” Dowdy said. “There's a number of parking garages right now, and there's capacity there. However, looking forward to long-term, that's a longer conversation that our parking team is having thinking about what the future of parking in downtown Eugene is really about.
Leaders say they hope even more activity is restored in downtown Eugene.
“Eugene is such a great community, and this really extends that opportunity for people to spend time outdoors and celebrate the things we love best: coming together, locally grown food and local commerce,” Dowdy said.
The site will be at 750 Oak St. in Eugene, and the money will be coming from the Downtown Urban Renewal Fund.
The target completion for the project is February or March 2022. The city hopes to have everything cleaned up well before then.