UO’s “Romania Lot” looks for proposals for use, improvement of historic building
One of the University of Oregon’s most forgettable buildings sits just outside of campus and is an example of post-World War II architecture. Although it looks abandoned and dilapidated now, a passing student used to be able to see a glass-paneled showroom featuring vintage Chevrolets.
The University of Oregon is seeking development of the “Romania lot” located at 2020 Franklin Blvd., east of Matthew Knight Arena and Market of Choice. The university purchased the building and the four acre lot in 2005, which has since been used as storage for university property. Now, UO real estate analyst Patrick Hyland said the university is looking to make some money off the property.
The building was formerly known as the Joe Romania Chevrolet Dealership, and before that, it was named the Lew Williams Chevrolet Dealership and the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant.
Despite its location being removed from central campus, the unique building garners attention because of its architecture — enough attention to become a registered local historic site with the National Park Service in 2011.
The NPS Registration Form states, “The dealership has served as an icon of modern design in the Eugene area since 1960 when the display pavilion was built as an attachment to the front of a 1949 Coca-Cola bottling plant and the dealership opened for business. It has a flying roof, locally known as a ‘potato-chip’ style roof.”
On Feb. 1, Hyland said the university sent out a request for qualifications seeking developers and their ideas for the property.
Due to the historic landmark status, there are limitations to what can be done with the building. It cannot be demolished without prior approval from the city or have its qualities earning it historic recognition altered. Hyland said some changes can be made, like improvements or updates to a degree, and it can be moved in its entirety.
“We feel there’s a lot of reason not to demolish it,” Hyland said.
One of those reasons is that the community likes it.
The deadline for the request of qualifications is Feb. 28, and after that, the UO will open a request for proposals. At this step, Hyland said they are looking for more specificity in the proposals and they will decide from there if they will proceed with the development.
Hyland said a crucial part of the proposals is a plan for what to do with the showroom, the portion of the building outlined in the National Register for Historic Places. Here he said there is “community interest to consider.” Hyland offered an example of building around the showroom as an idea they would consider as opposed to altering the character or unique qualities of the showroom.
Hyland also mentioned the interior of the building, saying it is odd and the building is just not used as much as initially expected. He said the primary purpose for developing the lot is to provide financial revenue for the university.
The roof of the building was something Hyland laughed at as well, saying, “we call it the potato chip because it looks like a Pringle.”
Follow Becca Robbins on Twitter: @brobbinsuo
Do you appreciate independent student journalism? Emerald Media Group is a non-profit organization. Please consider a donation to support our mission.