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From left to right, Lane County Board of Commissioners Chair Pete Sorenson, Vice President of Obie Companies Casey Barrett, Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis and President and CEO of Obie Companies Brian Obie break ground using a ceremonial jackhammer at the designated site of the 5th Street Market expansion. (Dana Sparks/Emerald)

The 5th Street Public Market expansion officially broke ground on Thursday, Feb. 14, as local developers gathered with community members to ceremoniously begin construction on a project more than six years in the making.

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The ceremonial jackhammer used by the opening city and project officials on the expansion of the 5th Street Market. (Dana Sparks/Emerald)

The $75 million project will transform the empty lot on 6th and Pearl Street into a market district comprised of commercial buildings, apartments and a hotel, according to a press release from the developer, Obie Companies. The project is set for completion by September 2020.

The expansion coincides with planned public investment in a new city hall and courthouse, as well as the larger Riverfront development. On campus, the new Hayward Field stadium is currently under construction with a projected 2021 completion date.

“With this project, we are creating a true urban village,” said Brian Obie, President of Obie Companies. “The expansion will transform downtown Eugene by bringing in new visitors and residents to shop, dine and enjoy our rich cultural life.”

Obie and his grandson, Casey Barrett, the company’s vice president, took turns speaking to over a hundred people, before introducing the Lane County Board of Commissioners Chair, Pete Sorenson, and Eugene’s Mayor Lucy Vinis.

“Over 200 jobs will be added to our economy through the construction phase of the expansion,” Sorenson said. “Part of this project, in a broader sense, is increasing the vitality of downtown Eugene, and one of the ways we do that is to make sure that the people who do the work can afford to live here.”

The market will expand on the boutique hotel and gift shops located a block away at the 5th Street Public Market. There will be a three-story commercial building for retail and office space, a seven-story apartment building and seven-story boutique hotel.

“This is going to be a phenomenal achievement for Eugene,” Sorenson said.

Near the end of the ceremony, Mayor Vinis took the podium and noted that the 5th Street expansion, along with the Riverfront project, is the largest private development in Eugene’s history.

“We’re looking at tripling our urban core over the next decade. It’s a huge accomplishment,” Vinis said.

According to the press release, the project will eventually add over $458,000 in property tax revenue every year, while increasing the accessibility of Eugene’s downtown area.

“We need our economic growth, we need that tax revenue and the private investment to be able to support the services we all want and need in our community,” Vinis said. “This is part of a larger vision of how we grow as a community.”

News Reporter

Donny Morrison is a news reporter covering the city beat for the Daily Emerald. In the past he's written feature stories for both Ethos Magazine and The Torch. He takes strictly cold showers.


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