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Revitalization still possible for downtown



The West Broadway neighborhood in downtown Eugene may have another chance at revitalization and redevelopment as city staff review five conceptual proposals from developers.

The city has targeted the two-block stretch of West Broadway between Willamette and Charnelton streets, which is known for its high rate of vacancies and lack of retail space.

The five proposals, including four from out-of-town developers and one from a Eugene resident, were received after the city put out a request for development proposals to about 100 different entities.

“We’re very happy to have received what we received,” said Denny Braud, a senior development analyst for the Community Development Division. “We’re not a major metropolitan area. We wouldn’t expect to have a huge response because there are some challenges, economically.”

After reviewing all five proposals, city staff is hoping to bring a project recommendation to the Eugene City Council on March 12, Braud said. Depending on what the city staff decides, the project could move forward with either one developer or more than one developer, he said.

The proposals are evaluated on six criteria, including the developers’ qualifications and financial capability and the concept’s feasibility, public benefit and consistency with city policies and goals.

Two of the developers, Beam Development and KWG Development Partners, are with headquarters in Portland. CenterCal Properties is based in Tigard and Midtown Village is based in Orem, Utah.

Beam proposes renovating two buildings and property on the north side of Broadway in a two-part phase. KWG, CenterCal and Midtown’s concepts suggest rebuilding the area as a high-density residential and commercial area.

The only local proposal came from Greg Bryant, the executive director of the Tango Center on West Broadway. Bryant proposed that the city buy four buildings in the neighborhood, such as the Washburne building and the Centre Court building, and rent them out to local community groups and small businesses.

A redevelopment advisory committee suggested looking at both Beam’s and KWG’s proposals, Braud said.

Braud said once a qualified developer or group of developers is selected, the second phase is to create a public-private partnership to try and find out the best ways to move the project forward. The city would provide input and some financial help such as tax exemptions, urban renewal funds, block grants and federal funds.

“We’re going to have to justify that investment and show how it’s going to benefit the community,” Braud said. “Most would recognize that in order to have the kind of development we want downtown, the city’s going to have to play some role financially or provide some incentives to help push this kind of development forward.”

It’s not the first time that developers have tried to rejuvenate West Broadway.

The neighborhood was last targeted for development by Broadway property owners Tom Connor and Don Woolley, who proposed a $165 million project that would have redeveloped the neighborhood into a major commercial and residential center. Connor and Woolley dropped their plans in April 2006 after failing to get the needed property owners to sell. In response, the city asked for new proposals.

The city has made agreements with several property owners in the neighborhood for the rights to buy the properties for a set price. However, the current project is still in the conceptual stage.

“We don’t know what the project is yet,” Braud said. “We’re not really at a point where we would recommend one or two proposals.”

Contact the city, state politics reporter at [email protected]

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