Tracking big development in Springfield and Eugene, fourth COVID wave

On the agenda: privatization and big development

From Eugene to Springfield, the cities are putting on the table major development plans that include the privatization of public land. Both City Councils have released information on its projects and will be deliberating and accepting comment to some extent over the next month starting Monday when both return from their recesses.

First up, Springfield City Council is accepting presentations from two different development groups Monday to purchase and develop multiple acres of Glenwood riverfront property from the City of Springfield. Glenwood is an unincorporated community, once controlled by the City of Eugene, but has been under the jurisdiction of Springfield since 1999.

The property in question is in Springfield’s Urban Renewal district owned by the Springfield Economic Development Agency (SEDA), similar to Eugene’s Urban Renewal Agency. In Springfield’s case the area is overseen by the SEDA board, which consists of the city’s six councilors, mayor, plus the Lane County Commissioner representing Springfield, currently Joe Berney. Much of the nearly nine acres that is on the table for bidding comes from a purchase of Ramsey-Waite vehicle and equipment property purchase of about seven acres in 2018, that came with hopes of redeveloping.

Those presenting to the City Council are Glenwood Development LLC. and LOCALIS. Glenwood Development’s project focuses on a 20 story luxury hotel, 85K sqft conference room, 30K sqft plaza. The developers say they could strike up an agreement with Lane County’s Homes for Good to build 122 to 137 “Affordable/Workforce Residences,” however there is currently no agreement.

LOCALIS is a larger coalition and aims to combine a purchase of the SEDA riverfront property with adjacent private property, for a total of 32 acres they aim to develop. In partnership with the construction and architecture firms a part of the coalition also includes technology firm SheerID, hockey team Eugene Generals, and soccer team Lane United FC.

The Eugene Emeralds baseball team were previously vying for the area, but pulled out.

Next up is the City is seeking to take action to the riverfront property and 1059 Willamette property. Formerly owned by Lane Community College, the City bought the building in April of last year after LCC left the building unused. According to the Register Guard, “At least half of the units in the project must be affordable to households earning 80% of the area median income or less — which in 2020 was $44,800 — while the remaining units will be priced at market rates, according to the city.”

Stop the Sweeps has put out a call to provide public comment to City Council to reject the proposal along with the City of Eugene’s Riverfront housing proposal. The advocate group says “he proposals epitomize and perpetuate settler colonialism and white supremacy, while accelerating gentrification—in the name of so-called ‘affordable housing’ that is not at all affordable (studios starting at $1000 per month), in a city with the highest per capita homeless population in the nation.”

Underlying the proposals from the private developers in both Springfield and Eugene is major tax breaks from use of the Opportunity Zone federal tax breaks to Eugene’s MUPTE tax breaks.

Additionally during this time of multiple crises in a still ongoing pandemic the City of Eugene is looking at spending $9.8M on a fancy new Parks Pavilion Plaza aimed at facilitating commerce for the Lane County Farmers market. Additionally the city will use that area for a new City Hall. The area known as the Butterfly lot, previously hosted the old City Council building before it was razed six years ago and a simple parking lot was installed. In that time projected costs the City is expecting to incur for this project have been skyrocketing.

Local links

  • Gov. Kate Brown announced last Tuesday that Lane County qualified to move to Moderate Risk level, but would stay in Lower Risk as it was put in a two week caution period.

  • This comes as Lane County appears to be in a fourth wave of COVID cases

  • Also announced last week by Gov. Brown: all Oregonians 16 years old and over will be eligible for the COVID vaccine April 19.

  • Fire explodes propane tanks, destroys homeless camp under Ferry Street Bridge

  • Workers at Avamere nursing homes, that includes one in Eugene and one in Junction City, won a tentative agreement that among other things includes an $18/hour wage floor and new training standards.

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