1059 Willamette Street
On January 29, 2020 City Council approved the use of federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) dollars to purchase the 1059 Willamette Street site. The meeting materials and webcast can be found here.
The 1059 Willamette Building was vacated in 2012 when Lane Community College opened its new Downtown Campus at 10th Avenue and Olive Street. The 66,000 square foot facility has three floors with a full basement.
WHY HOUSING AT 1059 WILLAMETTE
Eugene lacks housing affordability, availability, and diversity of type. Our efforts with Housing Tools and Strategies, the TAC Report, and the Eugene/Springfield Consolidated Plan are all working towards increasing the supply of housing units for folks of varying income levels in our community.
Traditional affordable housing developments target folks that earn 60% and below of the area median income (AMI). This housing supply continues to be built because of the level of financial subsidy available (tax credits, HOME funds), making these projects financially viable. The City provides land in order to leverage these other subsidies.
Market rate developments continue to be built in Eugene. These projects are financially viable due to the high demand for housing in our community. When demand is high, rents will also be high. In order to secure housing, tenants are often paying more than 30% of their income to housing costs, meaning that they are rent burdened.
This project is an opportunity to utilize the CDBG funds we have available to increase the housing supply for incomes between 60-100% of the AMI, referred to as moderate income housing. The CDBG resource allows the City to be flexible and creative with providing this needed housing.
The proposed 49% of market rate units will help to fill the financial gap, but it will not be enough. The City anticipates utilizing Urban Renewal, among other financial tools, to help close this financial gap. This site is identified as an eligible project in the 2016 Downtown Urban Renewal Plan Amendment. This plan makes the project eligible for up to $6 million, with current estimated range from $1 million to $3 million.
The site’s central location and our community’s need for more housing options at all income levels indicate that housing would be a productive use. Community development is investigating the possibility of using 1059 Willamette, the site of the old LCC downtown campus, as a CDBG Land Acquisition for Affordable Housing site, also known as a land bank site.
The CDBG funding source dictates that at least 51% of the units must be affordable for and leased to households earning 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) or below. The remaining 49% of the units would be leased at market rate rents.
This will help to fill a gap in the housing affordability spectrum, allowing folks a housing option in between 60% AMI and market rate rents. At a moderate income housing level, folks would be able to save money and work towards financial security instead of being rent burdened.
The site is located in the center of walkable, bike friendly downtown Eugene, directly across the street from LTD’s Downtown Station. This project would create an active, engaging street face on Willamette Street, one of the Downtown Plan’s identified Great Streets. And, this project would implement compact urban development that encourages the use of transportation options.
Important next steps of the project include-
- Completing the environmental review which is a piece of due diligence required of the CDBG funding source;
- Exercising the Option Agreement and purchasing the site;
- Developing RFP criteria for development of the site and returning to City Council to consider the criteria;
- Soliciting interest through an RFP;
- Forming a Community Evaluation Panel to rank proposals and develop a recommendation; and,
- Returning to City Council with a project recommendation and funding strategy. This funding strategy will include Urban Renewal dollars which follow the project timeline below and include multiple opportunities for community engagement.