Next! Eugene gives LCC a shot at filling pit

Next! Eugene gives LCC a shot at filling pit
Empty. For now ...

EUGENE, Ore. - The Eugene City Council voted unanimously Monday night to give Lane Community College a shot at succeeding where others have failed: filling the pit across 10th Avenue from the Eugene Public Library.

LCC wants to build its new downtown center at the former Sears store site. The 80,000 square foot facility would house energy management and "green jobs" programs relocated from the main LCC campus. The LCC Small Business Development Center Network would move in -- and even student housing may be in the mix.

LCC has $17 million in the bank through state matching funds and its local bond measure, but more funds will be needed. The latest price tag on the downtown center is $27million.

Eugene Planning Director Susan Muir said other options could include a city bond measure, a local option levy, urban renewal agency funds or other ideas.
"We're going to enter into an agreement with them, an exclusive negotiating period where we can work out the deal points of how we're going to move this development forward," Muir said.

City and college officials want the development to be a catalyst for downtown redevelopment.

"Bringing more people downtown will be the start of further revitalization of our downtown area," LCC President Mary Spilde said.

The idea that LCC could be part of the solution for downtown excited student Devon Freechild.

"That pit's been there for a long time," Freechild said, "and the fact that we're going to fill it up with something is progress in some regard."

"I think maybe it's a good idea, but I'm not sure exactly how much it's going to cost the school," said student Jacob Hoffart.

"It sounds nice," said Dan Weideman, a newly enrolled LCC student attending classes at the current LCC downtown center. "This building is old and I think we could use a new one.  It would be good for downtown."

An earlier mixed development plan by WG Development didn't pan out, but Spilde told KVAL News that if the financial pieces fall together, look for site preparation work late this year or early in 2011.