EUGENE, Ore. -- Capstone College Communities builds housing project for students all over the country. And now the firm wants to put an $89 million complex in downtown Eugene.
But local architect Sara Bergsund said she isn’t sure Capstone understands what the downtown economy needs for long-term growth.
Bergsund’s office is right across from a vacant parking lot and an unused medical building—what used to be a branch of Peace Health Medical Group.
Looking at the proposed build site on Tuesday, Bergsund said the location would be perfect.
“The dense core and the single family neighborhood, and it’s in the proximity of other businesses," she said. "It’s in a great spot. It’s perfect for high density housing.”
After attending a community discussion led by Capstone at Cozmic, a downtown restaurant, Bergsund said their preliminary design is missing out on a key opportunity for the future growth of Eugene.
“The main takeaway would be just life on the street,” said Bergsund as she pointed to the intersection at Olive and West 13th streets. “They’ve turned their back to the public street—the public domain.”
Bergsund said Capstone's design looks like a fortress—with limited street entrances and not retail space. She said the building would be cut off from “the core of urban life downtown.”
But Capstone’s project spokesman Conrad Sick said the plans were designed with safety and security for student tenants in mind.
“That enables the parkway to be activated with the public and the private—all working together but enabling the security,” said Sick. “Student housing and the need for student housing is going to be here now and for a long time like is always has in the past. We don’t see that going away because we don’t see the university going away.”
The project is still in it very early phases. The Eugene City Council has yet to vote on it.
Meanwhile, Capstone has asked for a $16 million property tax waiver to build on the site. The council has set a preliminary date for a vote on the tax waiver in May.