Commissioners approve plans to build apartments near 5th Street Public Market

Lane County Commissioners approved plans to build two apartment complexes in the current 5th Street Public Market parking lot locations. One apartment complex will be 131 units for rent at market-rate. The other complex will be 50 units for low-income tenants. Image courtesy commissioner's agenda

EUGENE, Ore. - Another major development project in Downtown Eugene was set in motion on Tuesday. This one is three years in the making.

The project would develop the county-owned land next to the 5th Street Public Market on 6th Street between Pearl and Oak. The two empty lots are currently being used as parking lots.

The project would transform the two lots. The east lot would expand the 5th Street Public Market, using similar colors, building materials and design. It includes new shops and restaurants, pedestrian walkways, bike parking, and a 6-story, market-rate apartment complex with 131 units.

Along with revitalizing downtown, the project is aimed at fighting a big problem in Lane County: a lack of affordable housing.

"Affordable housing in Lane County and Eugene is a huge problem for our community and HACSA is determined to fix that," said Jacob Fox, Executive Director of The Housing and Community Services Agency in Lane County.

Fox says right now there are five affordable housing communities in downtown Eugene. But those waiting lists to get in are more than two years long.

That is why HACSA is teaming up with Obie Development, headed by former Eugene Mayor and current owner of the 5th Street Public Market, Brian Obie.

"We think the downtown is going to improve and gentrify rapidly, and to have affordable housing downtown is really critical," added Fox.

On the west lot, HACSA plans to build a five-story apartment complex with 50 low-income housing units. Ten of those units will be set aside for homeless veterans. Fox says a one-bedroom apartment would cost as low as 400 dollars a month.

On Tuesday, Lane County Commissioners gave the site plan their unanimous nod of approval.

"We're especially excited about the low-income housing that HACSA is developing," says Devon Ashbridge, Lane County public information officer. "We know that that's a great need across the county, but especially here in Downtown Eugene."

Ashbridge says the county will enter into a 99-year lease with Obie Development and HACSA once construction begins.

Fox says they will likely break ground in early 2018, and construction is expected to take about a year to complete.

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