The "Sears Pit" in downtown Eugene, soon to be replaced (we hope) with a new mixed-use complex including Lane Community College's downtown campus and student housing
The AIA-SWO Past Presidents turned out in force last Thursday at Davis’ Restaurant for a lively discussion with Eugene City Manager Jon Ruiz. They gathered to share their ideas, visions, dreams, and frustrations about the development, or lack thereof, of Eugene’s downtown, as well as the future possibilities of the Eugene Water & Electric Board site, the Courthouse District, Riverfront Research Park, and points further up river through Glenwood. In turn, Jon asked the Past Presidents the following question: What would it take to make each of these areas a special part of Eugene? There was no shortage of ideas and references to other successful examples. There is also no shortage of future development sites.
So in response to Jon Ruiz’s question, what did the Past Presidents think it would take to improve our city’s urban environment? Responses noted were:
- Improve cooperation among city council members
- Rebuild trust between developers and the general public
- Focus on at least one winning (winnable?) project
- Build on the momentum that would be generated by successful development of a new Lane Community College Downtown Center (1)
- Fill the pits
- Leverage small amounts of public money for large amounts of developer investment
- Improve the physical connection between the University and Downtown Eugene
- Get to the river
- Look for a visionary leader in the new planning director (Susan Muir is leaving Eugene to become the City Administrator for Mount Angel)
The Past Presidents thanked Jon for asking for taking the time to meet with the group again. He also thanked those he met with for their time, and to contact him if AIA-SWO has additional ideas to share. We’re certain to do that.
(1) I hope to blog about this project in detail in the near future. My firm, Robertson/Sherwood/Architects, along with the SRG Partnership of Portland, recently completed a conceptual design for the new LCC Downtown Center.