Projects give downtown Eugene new momentum

Projects give downtown Eugene new momentum »Play Video

EUGENE, Ore. - Construction in Downtown Eugene has been turning heads - and keeping the mayor busy toting tools around town.

"I've made it a point of being shovel ready at all times here," Mayor Kitty Piercy said Thursday.

Her shovel has become a constant companion in downtown Eugene for ceremonial groundbreakings on a growing list of public and private projects.

On Thursday, Piercy and other city leaders joined bankers and developers breaking ground on a new 5-story office and retail building in the heart of downtown Eugene.

"We are downtown people and we want to make a contribution to downtown and the current momentum that's happening with this project and LCC and the Beam project," said Sarah Bennett with Bennett Management Company.

She said one private business has signed a lease, and they have a large commitment from the city.

Next door to the Bennett projects, Beam crews are renovating the Centre Court building at Broadway and Willamette.

Lane Community College has committed to build a new downtown facility in the other "pit" across from the public library.

And on the eastside of downtown, a new boutique hotel is under construction at the 5th Street Public Market.

"In just a few short years we've gone from wondering if anything was going to happen in our downtown," said David Hauser with the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce, "to having over $75 million dollars worth of projects underway in the very near future."

Hauser sees a surge in downtown construction fueling more development.

"One of the things we learn over and over in economic development is energy attracts energy," Hauser said, "so anytime something happens it changes the perception of that region and I think we're going to see that downtown."