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Firms submit plans to recast Broadway.

Byline: Edward Russo The Register-Guard

Four out-of-town firms with different development ideas are interested in rebuilding the heart of downtown Eugene.

The firms - three from Portland and one from Utah - responded on Friday to the city's request for interest in redeveloping two blocks of Broadway between Willamette and Charnelton streets.

The developers propose building various combinations of shops, offices, condominiums, apartments or entertainment venues in an underused area that city officials and downtown boosters would like to change.

"This is a great opportunity to see a transforming redevelopment in the very core of our downtown," City Manager Dennis Taylor said. "The proposals are very much what we hoped for."

The firms that submitted proposals are KWG Development Partners, CenterCal Properties and Beam Development, all of Portland, and Midtown Development of Orem, Utah.

Last year, Broadway landlords Tom Connor and Don Woolley and their development partner, Opus Northwest of Portland, dropped plans for a $165 million retail, entertainment, housing and office project on Broadway. They had been unable to assemble enough property because most of the adjoining property owners declined to sell.

By last fall, however, the city had secured the right to buy nine properties on and around Broadway in hopes of luring a developer back to the area. The property owners who signed purchase option agreements include Connor and Woolley, plus several of the landlords who previously refused to sell and make way for the Opus project.

Mayor Kitty Piercy said she was impressed with the quality of the firms that responded.

"We would be pretty discouraged if we put the request (for interest) out there and there were no bites," she said. "But we have some very substantial bites, and we have a lot to consider and look at. I think people should be pretty pleased about that."

The city also got a proposal from Greg Bryant of the Tango Center, a dance hall in one of the Broadway buildings owned by Connor and Woolley.

Bryant suggests that the city acquire the buildings and use them as business incubators and homes for community groups, some of which are already there.

One firm, KWG Development, includes Tom Kemper and Ron Skov, whom the City Council last year selected to redevelop the city-owned parcel across the street from the downtown library.

In their latest proposal, Kemper and Skov have added partners and expanded their plan from a 106-unit condominium development on less than half a block to a 700,000-square-foot development on both sides of Broadway, between Willamette and Charnelton.

KWG's proposal, larger than the other three, is similar to the abandoned Connor-Woolley-Opus project.

KWG proposes building 400 condos and apartments, shops, restaurants, a grocery store, offices, a multiscreen theater, nightclubs and an upscale hotel in a project they have dubbed "The West End."

"In essence, these two blocks of Broadway would be recast into downtown Eugene's entertainment hot spot," the developers wrote in their application to the city.

Beam Development, which had vied with Kemper and Skov for the right to develop the city parcel near the library, said it wants to renovate the Centre Court and Washburne buildings, on the south side of Broadway between Willamette and Olive streets.

The buildings would have retail tenants on the ground floors and offices on the upper floors, the developers wrote.

"Bringing new life to these buildings helps maintain a key part of the city's historic fabric and will integrate seamlessly with the existing downtown," they wrote. "This project can be a catalyst for further redevelopment of downtown."

CenterCal Properties, which is developing Cascade Station, a 120-acre mixed-use development near Portland International Airport, said a Broadway project might include housing, shops, restaurants, stores, offices and a 30,000-square-foot theater with restaurant.

Midtown Development's idea is for 321 condos, 100,000 square feet of offices, 75,000 square feet of retail and a 48-room hotel in a high-rise complex built on both sides of Broadway, on the block between Willamette and Olive.

The developers were not required to include detailed building plans or financial proposals; that could come later after the City Council selects one and a redevelopment agreement is reached.

In total, the Broadway property owners are asking $15.6 million for their properties.

Those prices are considered steep by Eugene standards, so city officials expect developers to ask for public assistance.

Of the four proposals, KWG and Beam provided the most detail about what that help might be.

KWG, for example, asked the city for underground parking for the grocery store, hotel, theater and affordable housing. The firm said it expects to buy the property for less than the asking price so it could make a 13 percent profit.

KWG also wants a 10-year property tax break on the housing units, and the city to pay for moving utility lines, among other things.

Beam said it prefers that the city buy the Centre Court and Washburne buildings from Connor and Woolley, who are asking a combined $4.7 million. Beam said it would redevelop the structures in hopes of sharing an estimated $2.3 million profit with the city.

Midtown Development, other than saying it would apply for the 10-year property tax breaks for housing units, was vague on other types of financial help it might seek.

CenterCal properties was just as obscure. "The degree of public assistance will depend on the final redevelopment concept," the firm wrote.

The City Council will discuss the proposals on March 12. Taylor, the city manager, said his staff will study them and recommend one of the firms to the council as a partner in the redevelopment of Broadway. "I'm very encouraged," he said.
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Title Annotation:Government; Four proposals for redeveloping two blocks in downtown Eugene include ideas for shops, offices and housing
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Feb 10, 2007
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