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City of Eugene agrees to buy waterfront property from EWEB for $5.75 million

The City of Eugene will pay $5.75 million to buy 16 acres of waterfront property along the Willamette River from the Eugene Water & Electric Board under a sales agreement reached by the two local governments. (Still image from City of Eugene video)

EUGENE, Ore. - The City of Eugene will pay $5.75 million to buy 16 acres of waterfront property along the Willamette River from the Eugene Water & Electric Board under a sales agreement reached by the two local governments.

"It's certainly a milestone. We've been working on this for quite a while so we're excited to see this day happen," said Susan Parisi, an EWEB spokesperson.

The money will come from the Riverfront Urban Renewal District, the City said.

The City Council approved the plan last year. The EWEB board April 4 authorized general manager Frank Lawson to work on final details on the agreement.

EWEB and the City have been working in tandem to redevelop the property.

“This project is a once in a lifetime opportunity that will redefine our downtown riverfront and will serve as a new signature element of our community’s identity for the next century,” says City Manager Jon Ruiz. “City of Eugene staff have the expertise and the experience to successfully realize this long-held vision and we appreciate the partnership with Eugene Water and Electric Board in reaching this agreement.”

EWEB decided to sell the property rather than facilitate redevelopment.

The City has more experience fostering development projects, the two governments agreed in recent years.

"The City is committed to delivering a high-quality legacy project that connects downtown to the river, catalyzes economic growth, and reflects the community’s vision," according to the City of Eugene webpage dedicated to the project. "The riverfront redevelopment will be a key destination as Eugene takes its place on the international stage as host of the 2021 IAAF World Track and Field Championships. With a new park, an improved riverfront path, and an inviting link to downtown, the site will draw people from near and far to the center of our city, and will provide a lasting legacy for the community."

EWEB started the process years ago, developing a master plan that City staff indicated will be used as a starting point for the project.

"The possibilities of some really interesting housing, mixed use, commercial, office, along that, really creating another part of our neighborhood in and around the downtown," Ruiz said.

The University of Oregon Foundation had won a competitive process in 2014 to redevelop the property. The Foundation pulled out in 2015.

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