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'This could take 3 to 5 years to be resolved'

EUGENE, Ore. - The University of Oregon Foundation beat out other suitors last October for the right to redevelop 17 acres on Eugene's waterfront.

This week, the foundation pulled out of the partnership with Eugene Water & Electric Board.

The foundation's CIO Jay Namyet said it's the only option.

"As proper fudiciaries for the donors that have supported the university, with our need to honor their commitment to the university and steward their funds most appropriately," he said.

EWEB spokesperson Joe Harwood said the utility, which no longer uses the land for operations, is aware there may be concerns but has been working to address them.

For one, Harwood said the area is industrial.

But just last week the City of Eugene approved $240,000 for railroad design work including creating "quiet zones" and moving the railroad crossings to 8th avenue.

Namyet said timing is everything.

"This could take 3 to 5 years to be resolved, but if we are needing to build in fairly short order, we're not going to know until a large part of this project is built whether or not we have a quiet zone or not," he said.

Harwood did not have an estimate on how much the project would cost but said redevelopments are known to be costly.

"The bottom line is we were looking forward to an investment of $200 million to $300 million, and now that's private investment obviously there'll be some public investment as well," he said.

The plan for the property is to have a mix of housing, offices, commercial shops and restaurants.

The City of Eugene also pledged more than a million dollars to develop sidewalks, landscaping and a new park in the area.

Namyet said the master plan didn't include sufficient parking.

The City and EWEB remained committed to the project.

"We still think that this property has a lot of value, we think there are a lot of opportunities, and we think we can still deliver to the community, a riverfront district that is a once in a lifetime opportunity," Harwood said.

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