I’ve chronicled the interminable and almost comically tragic saga of a new, yet-to-be-realized Eugene City Hall for more than a decade now on this blog. City of Eugene administrators first signaled their wish to abandon the former award-winning City Hall back in the 1990s, barely halfway through the building’s too-short existence, before unceremoniously razing it in 2014. The City did so with the intent of building a new city hall but ultimately lacked sufficient funding or public support to accomplish such a project. An early (circa 2005), overly ambitious design by Thomas Hacker Architects totaling 300,000 gsf in program area was clearly unaffordable and never progressed beyond the conceptual stage. The 2014 plans for a replacement city hall on the former building’s site also failed to materialize due to rapidly escalating construction cost estimates. Without a place to call home, the City leased space to conduct city council meetings and house its administration, first from Lane County in the County’s Public Service Building and later (and currently) from Lane Community College at its Mary Spilde Center across the street from the Eugene Public Library. Throughout this period, the City explored its options, which included a long-term lease or purchase of the Mary Spilde Center, siting a totally new city hall on the NW Park Block along 7th Avenue, and leasing or buying the former EWEB headquarters.
Skinner Butte Height Limitation Area
The Eugene city council met in a work session last Tuesday to discuss a proposed amendment to the Eugene Code regarding the Skinner Butte Height Limitation Area. The council will vote on the amendment during a meeting on February 13 that, if passed, would allow taller buildings to be constructed on six parcels along Fifth Avenue between Willamette and Pearl Streets. The Skinner Butte Height Limitation Area encompasses the subject parcels. The Obie Companies requested the change so that it can add two mixed-use buildings to its Market District portfolio that would exceed the current allowable heights.
The requested land use change prompted comment from both
proponents and critics. The arguments on both sides are familiar. Those
supporting the amendment cite the benefits of increased density near the
downtown core, including the construction of more residential units, increased vibrancy,
and a concomitant boost to the property tax rolls (notwithstanding any tax exemptions
necessary to help the development pencil out). Opponents argue that tall
buildings will block sightlines toward Skinner Butte and the Shelton McMurphey
Johnson House. The most histrionic contend that an increase in the height limit
will lead to a “Manhattan-like canyon of concrete and steel.”
Perhaps the most surprising news I learned of was word that Arcimoto shut down production at its west Eugene factory and is facing bankruptcy. I wasn’t aware of the depth of the company’s troubles, including the fact that it had cut jobs and furloughed workers as early as last September as the value of its stock plunged. It was only seven months before in February of 2022 that Arcimoto opened its new 250,000 sf manufacturing facility. Apparently, supply chain bottlenecks were part of the problem, but also dwindling cash reserves and poor sales (Arcimoto only sold 41 of its vehicles during the second quarter of 2022).