Eugene downtown riverfront neighborhood one step closer with $4.7 million land sale

Megan Banta
Work continues on the riverfront development along East Fifth Avenue east of High Street.

Eugene officials and a Portland developer have closed on a $4.7 million deal for three parcels in the Downtown Riverfront Park area.

The developer, Atkins Dame, finalized the purchase of 155,000 square feet of city land Oct. 27 in a move that’s another step toward creating a riverfront neighborhood.

The sale moves the city closer to fulfilling a decadeslong hope of reconnecting downtown Eugene to the Willamette River.

“We are committed to ensuring the project fulfills the vision of the City’s master plan: a neighborhood that is sustainable, inclusive, respectful of history and seamlessly connected to Downtown Eugene, the Willamette River and the open spaces treasured by local community members,” said Jim Atkins, co-owner of Atkins Dame, in a statement.

The city is excited to have reached the milestone and to be “one step closer to realizing the community’s vision for the 16-acre riverfront property,” said Denny Braud, the city’s planning and development director.

“Atkins Dame continues to be a great partner and we’re looking forward to the vertical development getting underway next year and complementing the soon-to-open Riverfront Park,” Braud said in a statement.

The city applied $1.9 million of a $4.5 million deposit received earlier this year to the parcels, and Atkins Dame paid another $2.8 million to complete the sale, according to a city spokesperson.

The firm expects to begin construction next summer on the first residential projects, according to a news release. Current plans call for two four-story buildings with around 225 market rate apartment homes.

Downtown Riverfront: Projects

Construction on the two buildings on opposite corners of the intersection of East Fifth Avenue and Mill Street should be complete by 2024, Atkins Dame said in its release. The buildings will be on parcels 3B, 3C and 7.

As the firm closes on other properties for a total of 359,000 square feet in coming years, retail and more housing will follow along the extended East Fifth Avenue. Within the next few years, Atkins Dame plans to purchase another seven lots for a total purchase price of $11.1 million, including the sale that closed last week.

That extended street is part of the completed first phase of infrastructure and leads into Downtown Riverfront Park. A second phase of infrastructure is almost complete and will provide access to the southern end of the park and the steam plant.

Read the latest on another project within the riverfront development: Former EWEB steam plant redevelopment plans evolving to include hotel, doubling price tag

Once complete, the neighborhood will include a mix of building uses and open space to complement the Downtown Riverfront Park and an attached plaza.

Plans call for the new Eugene neighborhood, which will be bordered on High and Hilyard streets and the soon-to-open Downtown Riverfront Park, to feature at least 215 apartments, around 70 market-rate townhouses, a hotel with at least 125 rooms, a restaurant, commercial space and an affordable housing complex with at least 75 units.

Atkins Dame is developing most of those properties and plans to invest more than $100 million developing the lots.

Contact city government watchdog Megan Banta at Follow her on Twitter @MeganBanta_1.