Major transformation of Eugene’s Downtown Riverfront is underway, fulfilling the community’s long-held goal of turning a vacant, inaccessible riverfront lot into a vibrant, active, and accessible riverfront district and community destination. The redevelopment of the Downtown Riverfront has been a part of the community’s vision for decades, reinforced through numerous public engagement opportunities over several years. The City's Urban Renewal Agency now owns 16 acres of riverfront property that can become Eugene’s riverfront neighborhood – directly connecting our downtown and campus areas to the Willamette River and creating more access points for the community to enjoy. We have an opportunity to fulfill our community’s vision.
The City is moving ahead with a number of initiatives to begin the transformation of the Downtown Riverfront property. Explore below to find out the latest about the proposed Williams/Dame & Associates (WDA) redevelopment, Steam Plant re-use, the Riverfront Park, and how you can get involved.
- January 15, 2020 - Urban Renewal Agency Work Session - Riverfront Urban Renewal (tentative agenda - 5:30 p.m., Harris Hall in the Lane County Public Service Building, 125 E 8th Ave)
- February 18, 2020 - Urban Renewal Agency Work Session - Steam Plant Deal Points (tentative agenda - 12:00pm., Harris Hall in the Lane County Public Service Building, 125 E 8th Ave)
2019 Site Work
- Demolition – Several structures (the Equipment Repair, Tire Shop, Midgley, and Warehouse Operations buildings) were demolished to make way for the development of the new park and infrastructure, including new streets and sidewalks. Prior to their demolition, non-profit, BRING Recycling, spent several weeks on site salvaging as much as possible from the buildings for reuse and recycling including shelves, doors, lockers, plumbing fixtures, and more. Staton Construction, the demolition contractor, separated, recycled, reused or salvaged at least 50% of the non-hazardous materials and demolition debris.
- Grading and Riverbank Riparian Enhancements - Throughout the summer contractors removed the old asphalt and concrete, graded and prepared the site for streets and sidewalks, and removed invasive specifies and laid back the riverbank in preparation for the park.
2020 Site Work
- Infrastructure - Streets and utilities will be built throughout the spring and summer of 2020.
- Riverfront Park - The majority of the park will be built throughout the spring and summer of 2020 with the intention to have a grand opening event in the spring of 2021.
Land Use Package
On July 22, 2019 the City Council voted (7-0) to adopt the package of land use applications necessary to implement the concept plan for the Downtown Riverfront redevelopment. The package includes code amendments (CA 19-1), refinement plan amendments (RA 19-1), zone changes (Z 19-5), a Willamette River Greenway permit (WG 19-3), a tentative subdivision (ST 19-3), and a standards review (SDR 19-2). The entire land use package can be viewed and tracked using the planning land use application search page.
Name Our Streets!
Earlier this year, the City asked the community to help us name the three new streets on the Downtown Riverfront site. After over 1,100 submissions, the list was narrowed down to 12, and the community voted on their favorite 6. Visit the Engage Eugene website for up-to-date information.
Due to construction on the Downtown Riverfront, the portion of the South Bank Path between the EWEB headquarters and the Steam Plant will be closed until spring 2021. Crews removed the existing path in 2019 and will be constructing an improved bike path as part of the new Riverfront Park. Closing the path will give crews space to safely work, as large construction equipment will be moving through the area. People are encouraged to use the DeFazio and Frohnmayer bridges to detour north through Alton Baker Park.
The City is working with Williams/Dame & Associates (WDA), who have a tremendous amount of downtown and riverfront redevelopment experience. WDA has a commitment to, and track record of, developing high quality projects that create a unique sense of place and neighborhood. Learn more about Williams/Dame & Associates and their past projects. Opens a New Window.
On January 31, 2018, WDA presented their vision and initial concepts for the Downtown Riverfront site to City Council. Watch a video of the presentation Opens a New Window. or view the presentation slides Opens a New Window. .
On May 29, 2018, the Urban Renewal Agency Board reviewed proposed terms of an agreement with WDA that would set the stage for the future redevelopment of the site. Watch a video of the work session Opens a New Window. or view the presentation Opens a New Window. .
At the July 9, 2018 City Council work session, the Urban Renewal Agency Board approved the proposed terms with WDA. A webcast of the work session is available online here. Opens a New Window. And, the agenda item summary is available here.
On January 24, 2019, the Urban Renewal Agency entered into a Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA) with WDA. This agreement outlines the terms of WDA's concept plan, approved by the Agency Board, and other terms that will guide how we move forward with redevelopment. For more information about the DDA, view the press release or a summary of the DDA terms.
On September 23, 2019, the Urban Renewal Agency approved changes to WDA's concept plan. These changes will increase WDA's level of investment and the number of residential units being developed. For more information you can view the revised concept plan or read the agenda item summary.
Steam Plant Redevelopment Opportunity Opens a New Window.
On April 24, the Agency Board (City Council) directed the Agency Director (City Manager) to enter into negotiations with the development team led by Mark Miksis and Mark Frohnmayer for the redevelopment of the Steam Plant. Staff is currently in the process of negotiating deal points which will be brought back to the Agency Board in early 2020.
For more information visit www.eugene-or.gov/SteamPlant
One of the priorities the City heard most clearly in talking to the community about the future of parks and recreation is providing access to the river – for everything from recreation to simply enjoying the views. The 3-acre Downtown Riverfront Park and 1-acre Plaza will be the heart of the greater riverfront development that re-imagines a new, vibrant future and will, once again, unite our city with the river. The Downtown Riverfront Park is all about making connections – not just to downtown, but up and down the Willamette River as part of the 12-mile riverfront path system. Across the Peter DeFazio Bridge, the Riverfront Park will complement all the features of the 373-acre Alton Baker Park, making both sides of the river part of the community’s riverfront experience.
The conceptual design phase was completed in fall 2018. Project permitting and construction documentation is underway, with park construction expected to begin in 2020. Site preparation began this spring, with building demolition finishing in mid-June and riparian enhancement starting in July. The goal is to have transformed the industrial site into a vibrant Downtown Riverfront Park for current and future generations to enjoy; just in time for the 2021 World Track and Field Championships.
For up-to-date information on the Riverfront Park to find out you can get involved, please visit the Riverfront Park website.
Redevelopment of the site has been a part of the community's vision for decades, reinforced through numerous public engagement opportunities over several years. We know how important this site is to the community and we want the community to not only understand what is being proposed, but to also have an opportunity to weigh in.
- December 11, 2019 - Urban Renewal Agency Work Session - Riverfront Urban Renewal (tentative agenda - 12:00 p.m., Harris Hall in the Lane County Public Service Building, 125 E 8th Ave)
- January 15, 2020 - Urban Renewal Agency Work Session - Steam Plant Deal Points (tentative agenda - 12:00pm., Harris Hall in the Lane County Public Service Building, 125 E 8th Ave)
Since Eugene was founded in 1865, the Willamette River has been an essential piece of our community’s identity. It is where Eugene Skinner created the first plat for the city, and for decades the river has provided industry and recreation opportunities for our community. As one of our proudest assets, our community has a long held vision and desire to create more access and connections to the river – places where people can hang out, meet friends, and bring their family to enjoy the riverfront.
For years, Eugene Water & Electric Board (EWEB) housed their operations on an approximately 16-acre property along the riverfront. Understanding the potential of this site, in 2007 EWEB and the City of Eugene began the process of transforming this property to connect Eugene’s downtown to the Willamette River and create an active place for the entire community.
The Riverfront Master Plan Opens a New Window. was approved by the EWEB board in 2010 based on input from more than a thousand community members. The plan outlines the creation of a world-class public park along the waterfront and a high-quality multi-use riverfront development that will reflect the community’s vision, providing economic and housing opportunities, promoting compact urban development, and enhancing natural resources. In 2013, the City Council adopted the Master Plan along with land use policies to support its implementation.
EWEB decided to sell the property to the City in 2013 after refocusing on their core mission of providing utility services to the community. The City’s Urban Renewal Agency finalized the property purchase from EWEB for $5.75 million in April 2018. Funds for the purchase came from the Riverfront Urban Renewal District. This was a key milestone in the efforts to redevelop the site.
In June 2017 the Urban Renewal Agency signed an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) with Williams/Dame & Associates for the riverfront redevelopment property. The ENA formally expresses Williams & Dame's interest in owning and redeveloping the property consistent with the Riverfront Master Plan. The six month agreement provides Williams & Dame time to complete due diligence activities while working with the Urban Renewal Agency toward an agreement on the redevelopment of the property. During that time, the Agency has committed to negotiate exclusively with Williams & Dame.
The EWEB Riverfront Master Plan begins the process of reconnecting the city and the river. This shared vision for the property’s reuse builds upon years of aspirations to renew our city center, to model a sustainable future, and to, once again, unite our city with the river.
The Riverfront property is part of the Riverfront Urban Renewal District which makes it eligible for urban renewal funds. The Riverfront Urban Renewal Plan, outlines the goals and objectives for the site's revitalization.
The Riverfront Renewal Loan Program (River Loans) is a flexible financing program designed to encourage investments within the Riverfront Urban Renewal District that contribute to the economic vibrancy and density goals for the Riverfront area. River Loans are also designed to be responsive to unique redevelopment opportunities, specific redevelopment challenges, and individual project financing needs.
The Willamette to Willamette project aims to make tangible the connection between a city on the edge of a great river, and a river on the edge of a great city. The Willamette to Willamette plan will link the heart of our evolving city to the river that has shaped our identity, providing a critical connection between the natural and the urban, the two complementary components of our Eugene identity.
The Eugene riverfront plays a key role in the Lane Livability Consortium’s River District concept – a regional collaboration between the City of Eugene, the City of Springfield, Lane County, the University of Oregon, and the Lane Transit District. “The River Districts,” envisions a set of vibrant and connected urban neighborhoods planned, designed and built to celebrate and share the beauty of the Willamette River Greenway while sustainably capturing and driving regional economic growth.
Eugene recently launched its bike share system, PeaceHealth Rides. Riverfront Urban Renewal funds were used to fund three bike share stations within the District. The bikes accomplish many of the goals and objectives for the site's revitalization. For more information on the bike share system, visit the PeaceHealth Rides website.