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 is leading the redevelopment of 16 acres of riverfront property that will 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.
A number of initiatives are underway, bringing us closer to the transformation of the Downtown Riverfront property. Explore below to find out the latest about the Riverfront Park, the Steam Plant, the vertical redevelopment let by Atkins Dame, Inc., and how you can get involved.
Neighborhood Development (Atkins Dame, Inc.)
In 2020, Atkins Dame Inc. (formerly referred to as Williams/Dame and Associates) entered into a development agreement with the Urban Renewal Agency of the City of Eugene that will guide development of the new neighborhood. The sale of the development parcels is split into three phases. Atkins Dame closed on the first set of parcels in October 2021 and the second set of parcels in December 2022. The final parcel sale will happen by December 2023, for a total purchase price of $11.1 million.
Atkins Dame started construction on the “Heartwood” project (Parcel 7) in August 2022. Located on 5th Avenue just east of the viaduct, this first building will be four stories with 95 market rate apartment homes. The project is expected to be completed in early 2024. Construction on the “Portal” (Parcel 3BC), a new community with 130 market rate apartment homes, is scheduled to start in 2023. The Portal is located at the southwest intersection of 4th Avenue and Mill Street.
Atkins Dame submitted Multi-Unit Property Tax Exemptions (MUPTE) applications for their first three proposed projects, located on parcels 3B/3C, 7, and 9 (see map). In total, the projects would result in the addition of 381 new market-rate residential units on the Downtown Riverfront. On March 9, 2022, City Council approved MUPTEs for the three projects. Visit www.eugene-or.gov/MUPTE for more information on the MUPTE program and to view the applications.
The Riverfront Park is now open. Construction of the park started in May 2020 and was completed in June 2022. Park improvements include river overlooks, walking paths, the new section of bike path, decks, seating areas, stormwater treatment, new native vegetation and much more. The City is now in the process of designing phase 2 of the Park, the Plaza. (Visit www.eugene-or.gov/riverfrontpark for more information.)
See the latest virtual tour updates of the Downtown Riverfront site:
Name Our Streets!
In 2019, the City asked the community to help us name the three new streets on the Downtown Riverfront site. After an engaging process that generated more than 1,100 ideas from community members, Mayor Vinis revealed the final street names: Annie Mims Lane, Nak-nak Avenue, and Wiley Griffon Way. Visit the Engage Eugene website to learn more about the selection process and the history behind the chosen names.
For the vertical development of the neighborhood, the City is working with Atkins Dame, Inc. (formerly referred to as Williams/Dame & Associates or WDA) who have a tremendous amount of downtown and riverfront redevelopment experience. Atkins Dame has a commitment to, and track record of, developing high quality projects that create a unique sense of place and neighborhood.
In November 2020, Atkins Dame Inc. and the Urban Renewal Agency of the City of Eugene entered into a disposition and development agreement (DDA) that will guide development of the new neighborhood, including schedule and timing expectations, design requirements, and infrastructure investments.
Atkins Dame started construction on the “Heartwood” project (Parcel 7) in August 2022. Located on 5th Avenue just east of the viaduct, this first building will be four stories with 95 market rate apartment homes. The project is expected to be completed in early 2024. Construction on the “Portal” (Parcel 3BC), a new community with 130 market rate apartment homes, is scheduled to start in 2023. The Portal is located at the southwest intersection of 4th Avenue and Mill Street. Both projects are designed to the standards of Earth Advantage Gold and will exceed current energy codes. They are also designed to meet Fitwell 1-star compliance, a “healthy building” standard that includes amenities such as fitness rooms and bike racks. Construction will result in local job creation with minority, women and emerging small business (MWESB) enterprises.
Below is a recap of major milestones with Atkins Dame:
- January 31, 2018 - Atkins Dame (as WDA) presented their initial vision and 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. .
- 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. .
- July 9, 2018 - 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.
- Opens a New WijanJanuary 24, 2019 - the Urban Renewal Agency entered into an initial Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA) with WDA. For more information about the January 2019 DDA, view the press release or a summary of the DDA terms.
- September 23, 2019 - the Urban Renewal Agency approved changes to WDA’s concept plan to reflect an increased level of investment and number of residential units being developed. For more information you can view the revised concept plan or read the agenda item summary.
- May 26, 2020 - the Urban Renewal Agency approved changes to the terms of the agreement with WDA. Modifications were made to the affordable housing term (including location and flexibility on who develops it), timing on infrastructure cost sharing, sidewalk enhancements, and creating flexibility in the density, types of parking, and commercial areas associated with the planned development. For more information, you can read the agenda item summary or view the work session.
- November 2020 - Atkins Dame and the Urban Renewal Agency entered into a new Disposition and Development Agreement, per the terms approved at the May 26, 2020 work session).
- March 2021 - Atkins Dame completed due diligence and indicated they plan to move forward with purchase of Downtown Riverfront properties. The developer provided a $4.5 million non-refundable deposit which will be used to support the phase 2 infrastructure.
- October 2021 - Atkins Dame completed purchase of the first set of several Riverfront parcels.
- August 2022 - Atkins Dame began construction of the "Heartwood" project.
- December 2022 - Atkins Dame completed purchase of the second set of Riverfront parcels.
Steam Plant Redevelopment Opens a New Window.
On April 24, 2019, 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. The team proposes to save and adaptively re-use the Steam Plant, transforming it into an iconic community destination that connects people with downtown and the Willamette River.
The Agency Board approved terms for the sale and redevelopment of the Steam Plant on January 26, 2022, to the Dream Plant team (click here to view the work session materials and webcast). The terms included the use of Urban Renewal funds for asbestos abatement, systems development charges, and permit fees to support the project (estimated at $1.5 million). The Dream Plant team estimates that even after accounting for the Urban Renewal funds and their other sources of investment funds, the planned redevelopment has a remaining financial gap, which as of a year ago was estimated at over $5 million, due to significant cost escalations that impact the project feasibility. Staff continues to work with the Dream Plant team to identify funding for this gap, although at this time, both parties have exhausted all known potential leads for funding sources that could meaningfully reduce the gap including an unsuccessful request for funding from the state legislature.
For more information on the project, 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 (phase 1) and 1-acre Plaza (phase 2) 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 for phase 1 (the 3-acre linear park) was completed in fall 2018. Site preparation, including building demolition and riparian enhancement, took place in 2019. Construction to transform the industrial site into a vibrant Downtown Riverfront Park started in 2020 and was completed in June 2022.
In July 2021, it was announced the City would receive $5 million in State funding to help close a funding gap for the 2nd phase of the Downtown Riverfront Park, which includes the plaza and playground. Design of the plaza is currently underway.
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.
None scheduled at this time.
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 Agency currently has a Disposition and Development Agreement with Williams & Dame for the redevelopment of the site. See Williams & Dame section above for more information.
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.
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.