EUGENE, Ore. – Neighbors jeered and screamed at construction crews Thursday morning as they removed multiple large trees to make way for a future apartment complex off River Road.
Seattle-based Evergreen Housing Development Group has developed plans for a 93-unit apartment complex called the Lombard Apartments north of Lombard Lane and northwest of Maurie Jacobs Park.
Miaya Sustaita, a member of Greenway Guardians, a grassroots organization opposed to the project, said her main objection is the type of housing that will be built.
“When we discovered that it was market-rate, we were just floored,” Sustaita said. “We couldn't believe it, that they would sell it for market-rate.”
Like many others in the neighborhood, Sustaita is concerned about Eugene’s lack of affordable housing. Neighbor said it was a bait-and-switch because residents were once told affordable housing would be coming to the area but instead, it will be market-rate apartments.
“It's market-rate housing for a city where we are having a housing crisis and we need more housing, low-income housing, not market-rate housing,” said Bo Ling, another neighbor.
Evergreen Housing Development Group did not respond to requests for comment, but city records show permit applications were filed for four separate apartment buildings on the property in December 2019. The company filed for a Willamette Greenway permit, a site review and an adjustment review to construct the apartments as well as a leasing office, maintenance building, and parking areas. The main entrance to the development would be from River Road.
Greenway Guardians said they received word that heavy machinery would begin removing trees on Thursday morning, and the group was right. Two large excavators began toppling trees around 8 a.m. Greenway Guardians claims the developers plan to remove more than 40 trees.
“We just need more protection because this whole greenway is going to be eaten up,” Sustaita said. “We discovered that the greenway is not really protected from development. It's kind of the gentlemen's agreement that it not be built on.”
The conservation organization also approached the Upper Willamette Soil and Water Conservation District about purchasing the land from the developer to protect it, but no deal is in the works.