EWEB selects UO Foundation for waterfront development

EUGENE, Ore. - EWEB officials chose a developer Tuesday night to take on their 17-acre riverfront surplus site along the Willamette River.

The Eugene Water and Electric Board selected the University of Oregon Foundation, who says the project will be a vibrant, mixed use "people place" being called the Eugene River District.

Developers are planning to include local retailers and restaurants in the space, which has been over a decade in the making.

Roger Gray, EWEB's General Manager, recommended the University of Oregon Foundation and board members backed it with a unanimous vote (with one member abstaining).

"The inherent investment of the University of Oregon Foundation in the community is what made them the winner here," said EWEB commissioner John Simpson.

The community ties put the UO Foundation above the other two candidates for Simpson, which is why he said he made the motion in favor of their bid.

"If things go wrong, I feel the U of O Foundation is going to want to right that as fast as possible because they want good relations, good long term relations with our community," he said.

Jay Namyet, the Chief Investment Officer for the foundation, said the project is going to be a local endeavor that benefits the whole community

"This isn't a real estate development, this is something that's going to create an economic boom to downtown and local businesses will be the ones that benefit from it," said Namyet.

The University of Oregon Foundation will now enter in negotiations with EWEB to purchase the property. If all goes according to plan, Namyet says, they may start building in two years.

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