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EWEB waterfront: 'This is a complicated site. There's a lot of moving parts'

EUGENE, Ore. - A "transformational" moment is at hand for the 17 acres along the Willamette River that served as the former EWEB operations center.

The City of Eugene, the University of Oregon Foundation and the utility are partners in an effort to bring the waterfront alive.

"We are locals and we take great pride in the community," said Jay Namyet with the UO Foundation. "We're only going to build something that we can have pride in, and it's going to be uniquely Eugene."

The EWEB board last fall named the UO Foundation as the master planners for the project to reconnect downtown with the river.

The goal: a mix of housing, offices, shops and restaurants.

"We know this is a complicated site. There's a lot of moving parts," said Denny Braud, the city's community development officer. "We have very high expectations on the eventual outcome for this site."

It all hinges on EWEB and the Foundation agreeing to a selling price on the land.

After the appraisers are done with their work, the next step in the process is called a memorandum of agreement - let's-make-a-deal time between EWEB and the Foundation.

"If I had my druthers, I would really like to see it be so uniquely river that it's unlike any other place in our city," Mayor Kitty Piercy said.

The city's role in the project will involve sidewalks, landscaping and building a new park.

"We're very encouraged by the progress we're making on this project," Braud said. "But we have a lot of hard work ahead of us."

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