Near campus, houses come down so apartments can go up

Near campus, houses come down so apartments can go up »Play Video
An excavator rips through a house at the corner of 19th and High on Tuesday in Eugene, Ore.

EUGENE, Ore. - The front stairs climbed to the top of a pile of rubble by the end of the day Tuesday as an excavator reduced a nearly century old home to dust.

These steps to nowhere will soon lead to a new south University neighborhood skyline.

As enrollment at the University of Oregon surges, homes like the 90-year-old structure at the corner of 19th and High are being demolished to make way for new housing developments.

In many cases, these teardowns are homes marked by years of use as rentals - and in this case, abuse.

"At some point the owners just say OK, we're not going to put any more money into that," said developer Gordon Anslow of Anslow and DeGeneault.

Anslow said as a growing number of students are moving off campus, replacing single family homes near campus with multi-unit housing complexes is the smart thing to do.

"As you get closer to the urban core, which this is certainly close to the urban core, it becomes appropriate," he said.

Developers have another incentive: a city of Eugene 10-year property tax exemption on multiple-unit housing developments only applies to properties completed before Jan. 1, 2012, according to the ordinance.

But bulldozing for development isn't what many in the south University neighborhood want.

"No one has called to say we're thrilled that you're building something here," Anslow said.
    
He said the South University Neighborhood Association has tried in the past to save homes the city has deemed historic. But the city said that for the home on 19th street, that isn't the case.

"The properties we're talking about are not listed as historic homes, although some of them might be eligible for listing," said Steve Nystrom, principal planner with the City of Eugene.

The city said the bulk of housing redevelopment is happening in the south University neighborhood. Whether development goes in on the immediate edge of campus or further away takes a neighborhood and a developer working together before anyone can close a deal.