A welcome trend is underway in downtown Eugene.
More residents are moving into new housing in the City center -- adding vitality to the area and helping the community make progress on key goals.
Four residential projects with apartments and townhomes were finished last year in or near downtown. Another development, with condos, will be finished early this year. Altogether, the five projects contain a total of 273 living units. The housing is varied to fit people of different income levels, including affordable apartments for veterans and people with low-incomes, to higher-priced apartments, condominiums and townhomes. All the developments are multi-story, with two of them seven stories tall.
Mike Murphy recently moved from an apartment complex on Goodpasture Island Road in north Eugene to a 1-bedroom apartment in Gordon Lofts, part of the expanded Fifth Street Public Market. Murphy, 57, moved to downtown because he had recently opened Pedego Electric Bikes on East Fifth Avenue, and he wanted to be close to work.
This is his workday commute: “I walk down six flights of stairs, cross the street and I open my front door,” he said. “I felt like (the apartment) would be convenient to work and be right in the middle of what is going to be a really exciting downtown living experience.”
The housing developments help the City achieve compact growth -- a land use goal in the Envision Eugene community vision -- providing people with places to live near employment, shops, services and low carbon transportation options. More residents will enhance downtown’s economic vitality by patronizing stores, restaurants and other businesses, another community goal.
“We need for the downtown to be healthy and vibrant because it’s our civic, economic and cultural center,” said Eugene Planning Director Alissa Hansen. “The developments show there is a desire for people to live downtown, in a full range of income levels. I hope it’s a stimulus for more housing, and for people to see that downtown is a great place to live.”
Much of the new housing – 177 apartments – is in two buildings close to each other. These buildings are Gordon Lofts, on Pearl Street between East Fifth and Sixth avenues, and Market District Commons, at Oak Street and East Sixth Avenue, which provides affordable housing for people with low-incomes and veterans. The other new developments are Ferry Street Manor, near East 11th Avenue, The Midtown, East 16th Avenue and Pearl Street, and Market District Townhomes, on Shelton McMurphey Boulevard, east of Lincoln Street.
The City of Eugene played an important financial role in three of the projects by providing Federal HOME Loan funds, a construction loan and development fee waivers (Market District Commons) or granting limited duration property tax exemptions (Gordon Lofts and Ferry Street Manor). The City also provided environmental assessments to support pre-development efforts at Market District Commons and Gordon Lofts, using funds from an EPA grant. The incentives were needed to help these projects overcome the relatively high cost of downtown development.
In October, Alexandra Gottlin, 25, moved from New York City to Eugene so she could attend the University of Oregon.
A graduate student in the architecture program, Gottlin selected a studio at Ferry Street Manor for about the same rent that she would pay for a shared living space with other students.
Gottlin, who doesn’t have a car, said the apartment’s location allows her to walk to her classes in 10 minutes and reach downtown in even less time.
Her apartment building is “brand new and it’s been beautifully designed,” she said. “One of the big selling points for me was that I’m so used to New York and being able to walk down the street to go to the grocery store. Ferry Street Manor is close to shops downtown, and I can walk to Whole Foods and pick-up groceries. It offers a whole lot of flexibility when you don’t have a car.”
Through Envision Eugene, the community is planning for more than 1,000 new housing units in downtown by 2032. “The newly built residences are a promising start, and more housing is still needed downtown,” said Eric Brown, the City’s Downtown Manager. “Additional development will strengthen the area by attracting residents who will activate our downtown organically, making it safer, more vibrant and a welcoming place to be in the long term.”
New Downtown Housing
Gordon Lofts, 550 Pearl St., 127 apartments. Developer, Obie Companies, architect, Ankrom Moisan, general contractor, Andersen Construction. The Gordon Lofts | Luxury Apartments in Eugene, OR
Market District Commons, 560 Oak St., 50 apartments. Developer, Homes For Good, architect: Bergslund Delaney Architecture & Planning, general contractor, Chambers Construction. Market District Commons | Eugene, Oregon
Ferry Street Manor, 1030 Ferry St., 50 apartments. Developer, RNS Management, LLC. (Bennett family), architect, Arbor South, general contractor, John Hyland Construction. Downtown Eugene, Oregon living | Ferry Street Manor
The Midtown, East 16th/Pearl Street, 40 condominiums. Developer, Alex Haugland, architect, Paul Dustrud Architecture, general contractor, Essex General Construction. Luxury Living in the Heart of Eugene's Midtown District - The Midtown Luxury Condominiums (midtowneugene.com)
Market District Townhomes, Shelton McMurphey Boulevard, east of Lincoln Street. Six townhomes, with lots for 14 more, Developer/general contractor, Jordan Iverson Signature Homes. Joi Real estate (joirealty.com)
Mike Murphy, in his apartment at Gordon Lofts.
Gordon Lofts, 550 Pearl Street.
The Midtown, East 16th/Pearl Street.
Alexandra Gottlin, a resident of the new Ferry Street Manor.
Market District Townhomes, Shelton McMurphey Blvd.
Market District Commons, 560 Oak Street.