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Developers shift to office space.

Byline: Joe Mosley The Register-Guard

East Eugene's Chase Gardens neighborhood has gone nodal, but not quite the flavor of nodal development that was envisioned when planners sketched out the area northeast of Autzen Stadium five years ago.

"There's been a consistent trend of kind-of intense development in that area, which was allowed by the (road and sewer) improvements we put in," says Kurt Yeiter, a senior planner for Eugene's Department of Planning and Development. "But it's not the neighborhood shopping center we had originally planned for."

Instead, it's rapidly becoming an office park of significant pro- portions.

Eugene developer Wally Graff has completed a two-story, 54,000-square-foot medical office building on 8.6 acres along Garden Way just east of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. And he has begun foundation work on a second medical building that will be three stories and 87,000 square feet.

Directly across Garden Way, investment broker Terry White of Eugene is preparing to develop a 32,000-square-foot professional office building on two parcels totaling 1.75 acres.

"The bottom line is that what we're trying to do is build something that's going to be around for a hundred years," says White, who is planning a brick, energy-efficient building. "We're not going to build one of those 1972 plywood palaces."

Original plans for the 171-acre Chase Gardens neighborhood centered on at least 9 acres of "main street"-style commercial development to complement an existing collection of apartments and condominiums that have popped up in the area over the past couple of decades.

The commercial element would achieve the nodal goal of a self-sufficient, pedestrian-oriented urban community. And, central to the retail plans, was a moderate-sized grocery store.

But a Portland-based development firm that originally signed on to carry out the project decided it would be too expensive to produce retail space under city requirements for two-story buildings with two entrances.

The property on the west side of Garden Way was then sold to Graff, who specializes in developing medical offices.

He saw the location as ideal - about a five-minute drive from PeaceHealth's new RiverBend hospital and its existing Sacred Heart facility, and roughly the same distance to McKenzie-Willamette's existing Springfield hospital and either the Delta Highway or Glenwood locations where McKenzie-Willamette is expected to build a new campus.

His first building in the neighborhood - Chase Gardens Medical Center - was completed in March at a cost of about $20 million, and is almost fully leased, with just a few thousand square feet left.

Graff's second building - Garden Way Medical Center - is expected to be completed in late 2008, at a cost of about $30 million.

Its second and third floors already have been leased to the Oregon Medical Group physicians' organization, while the first floor will have a mix of uses including some retail.

A pharmacy and a coffee and sandwich shop have signed leases, and about 1,700 square feet of retail space remain.

Graff says the second building, like the first, will pay homage to the area's background with historical photographs of the former Chase Gardens nursery on corridor walls.

"We're sort of doing that as a monument to what it was before us," Graff says. "Where we sit currently, that's where (Chase Gardens) had the big smoke stack. It's kind of fun to be part of that history."

White already has tapped into the same history theme, in a different way.

He had a 1927 Chase Gardens farmhouse moved to Coburg from his Garden Way property, to make room for the office building that is expected to be under construction by early next year.

"We picked (the house) up and rolled it to Coburg and completely restored it, and then sold the house," White says.

He will relocate his investment firm's offices to the new building, but the majority of its space is expected to be leased to a single tenant - a local design and consulting business. White declined to identify the company, because a lease has not yet been signed.

The building, expected to cost about $5 million, will include features such as natural lighting, rooftop photovoltaic panels and an on-site bioswale to remove impurities from stormwater runoff.

Architect Kip Amend of Eugene's Eric Hall Architects says the site's nodal designation has actually streamlined some of the planning and design process.

"It compliments what we try to do as design professionals," Amend says. "I know they would have loved to have seen a grocery store, but we couldn't put that together."
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Title Annotation:Business; Professional buildings are going up in the Chase Gardens area, where neighborhood shops were once part of the plans
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Aug 29, 2007
Previous Article:BUSINESS BRIEFLY.
Next Article:Another big box coming to Springfield.

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