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'People driving down Franklin Boulevard will see there are fences up': What's going up?

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EUGENE, Ore. - Don't look now, but some actual construction is around the corner at Franklin Boulevard and Riverfront Parkway.

"I think people driving down Franklin Boulevard will see there are fences up," Dr. Patrick Phillips said.

Groundbreaking is coming up soon on the first phase of the Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact.

The project represents a $1 billion investment over the next decade, anchored by a $500 million donation from Nike founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny.

"It will really herald the beginning of a new different phase I think for the whole city," said Phillips, the acting director of the science campus. "That's really our hope and our goal."

Phillips said phase I of the project -a 160,000 square foot building with two towers - will break ground in March.

"Overall the scope of the project is that we're going from planning to opening the building within a 3-year period, which is pretty unprecedented," he said.

The University has purchased business properties along Franklin for the project.

Some businesses like Evergreen Indian Cuisine have to relocate.

"We love this location, and we like the community here, especially the UO," said Usha Shaik, manager at Evergreen.

Shaik said the Franklin Boulevard location has been the restaurant's home for 11 years. Moving will be bittersweet. The restaurant plans to reopen in the former Jade Palace restaurant building at 7th and Blair.

"It's hard to move, but it's another change," Shaik said.

This past year, Oregon lawmakers approved $50 million in bond funds for the Knight Science campus.

"The governor has requested in the latest session for another $40 million," Phillips said.

Enough funding, Phillips said, to keep phase one on schedule for an early 2020 opening.

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