Developer sought to transform Eugene waterfront

Developer sought to transform Eugene waterfront »Play Video
The steam plant, completed in 1931, has been out of service since EWEB stopped offering steam heat to customers.

EUGENE, Ore. - Wanted: a developer to transform 17 acres of waterfront property into a mix of residential, commercial and open space.

"It is the only piece of property that you can develop that is close to the river, close to downtown, connected to Oakway Center and the university," said Jeannine Parisi with the Eugene Water and Electric Board.

And unlike Civic Stadium, zoning allows for immediate mixed-use construction.

"Anything from small restaurants, to commercial space to residential housing," Parisi said.

Eugene Water & Electric Board has moved many of its more industrial functions to the Roosevelt Operation Center, away from the waterfront campus still anchored by the utility's headquarters.

Since 2010, EWEB has moved forward with a Riverfront Master Plan, focused on transforming the space formerly off limits to the public into a destination.

The City of Eugene signed off on the vision last year, and now EWEB is soliciting a master developer to handle the project.

EWEB wants a developer on board by late summer or fall.

There are 17 acres available now. And if the vision and price are right, the EWEB headquarters could be part of the discussion, too.

"We have a lot of park along the river," Parisi said. "We don't have a place for someone to come and get a drink or have an ice cream cone or meet their friends."

There are two historic buildings EWEB would like to see reused: the steam plant and the former headquarters. | SEE: How University of Oregon architecture students imagine reuse of buildings

Nearby business owner Jim Pierik said he would like to see the development centered on small, local businesses.

"I wouldn't like to see a lot of business right up against the river edge, so to speak," Pierik said. "Some residential down there and some small commercial - nothing too over the top."

Runner and Eugene resident Al Whelan said he wants the development to stay connected to nearby trails and parks.

"I just hope that they maintain the access along the river," he said. "I've got to believe they've given all the care that they're looking at with the plans."