In 2016, the Urban Renewal Agency Board approved a Downtown Urban Renewal Plan Amendment which listed downtown's Park Blocks and Open Spaces as a vital urban renewal project. Project for Public Spaces (PPS) was then hired to provide a comprehensive look at the public spaces in downtown Eugene. PPS provided recommendations for how to best make these spaces the most suitable for a vibrant, active downtown.
The dark blue sections on the map below identify downtown's major public spaces.
The four primary downtown public spaces are the Park Blocks, 10th and Olive, the Hult Center Plaza, and Kesey Square.
The Park Blocks are often referred to as the "heart of Eugene" due to the area’s historic roots as the city’s original town square and close proximity to important civic destinations. The Park Blocks serve as the home to two Eugene institutions: the Saturday Market and the Lane County Farmers’ Market. Food carts can regularly be found in the Park Blocks, and most recently, the City added a dining deck and attended restroom for park users.
A new vision for the Park Blocks is the core of the Town Square Concept Plan, created through a series of public engagement and feedback events in 2019 and 2020. This process shaped the development of the Farmers Market Pavilion and plaza, a new facility to provide the Lane County Farmers Market with a year-round home and host a variety of other events.
The corner of 10th and Olive is considered to be the "gateway to downtown," serving as the home of the Eugene Public Library, the LTD bus station, Lane Community College, and the City’s Atrium Building.
The Hult Center Plaza serves as a connection for pedestrians and cyclists from north Willamette Street to the 5th Street Market area and downtown. The Graduate Eugene hotel and event venue opens onto the Plaza, creating a welcoming space for hotel guests. The northern end of the plaza is the home to the publicly dedicated Eugene Japanese American Memorial. More information on the memorial can be found here.
Kesey Square is the commercial intersection of downtown Eugene. It is the center of an emerging shopping and entertainment district, and it serves as a downtown meeting place. Kesey Square is the home of food carts, community events, and a reminder of Ken Kesey’s literary legacy. A bronze statue entitled The Storyteller, depicting Ken Kesey reading to his three grandchildren, resides in the square.