Downtown Eugene

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Everyone appreciates the effort and care put into downtown by its new workers, commercial and non-profit, during the recent boom. Some lovely and touching stuff is emerging.

Again, the history is quite important: when Eugene's citizens united to defund urban renewal at the ballot box in 2007, they kicked out the heavies: large developers, commercial slumlords, and terrible urban interference by the City. As a result of the vote, ownership in the buildings broke up, empowering smaller owners, who partnered with others in energetic ways, to improve their spaces and create unique activities.

So I shouldn't be critical. This is an important and positive story.

But, although it's early days still, there is a kind of imbalance, which I think could correct itself, if enough people talk about it, and if enough people support others who want to fix the imbalance. 

I'm talking about: the old Diva space on Olive and Broadway; the empty spaces in the Lord Leebrick buildings; and the large unleased storefront across the street. These make Broadway between Olive & Charnelton seem quite unloved (especially compared to the jumping atmosphere between Pearl and Olive. )

Here we see a consequence of the ownership history of the block. It is still suffering from its past, when a single slumlord owner, who owned both sides of the street, was simply waiting, for years, to cash-out via urban renewal. Luckily this cash-out was prevented in 2007, but the block still suffers from the history. Interestingly, this is despite the block's hosting many innovative projects like The Tango Center,  DIVA, New Zone, Lord Leebrick, The Jazz Station, Helios, the Weekday Market et cetera. The other blocks on Broadway had a smaller-scale ownership history, so the energy invested in activity simply stuck more easily.

So, let's "make balance happen"! It's high time to "make an issue" out of this slow development between Olive & Charnelton. "Making an issue", out of an observation that anyone could make, will help spur a solution to the problem. 

Really, if you have an urge to create an activity in these spaces, you should knock on the doors of the landholders -- they might sell, further diversifying ownership. If this block could get popping, Broadway would have no "odd chasm" and could form a continuous, exciting urban fabric.