Eugene councilors move forward on new City Hall

Still, some residents worry about the potential cost.

Posted: Feb 13, 2020 6:17 PM
Updated: Feb 13, 2020 6:23 PM

EUGENE, Ore.-- After years of discussion, plans for the new Eugene city hall appear closer to reality.

Councilors this week voted to nix an expensive underground parking garage and extra floors of leasable space. But they agreed to include seismic fortifications.

City hall will be accompanied by a new farmer's market structure where the so-called butterfly parking lot sits. The park blocks will also be transformed as a part of the city's town square efforts.

"I like to think of this project as the place that you could bring a visitor from outside Eugene and show it to them and they could say, 'Oh yeah, that's Eugene. This is what it's all about,'" said project analyst Josh Berman. 

The city is waiting to provide cost estimates until final designs and building materials are determined. But the underground parking garage would have cost around $90,000 per space, totaling up to $18 million. Councilors said that an overground parking structure elsewhere may prove more practical. 

Still, some residents worry about the total cost.

"By the time it's done, I think the sky's the limit," Gordon Gallic, a resident, said. "Given the other issues the city is facing I'm not an advocate of spending that kind of money on the city hall."

Jeff Johnston supports the project but believes that the extra leasable floors may have been wise as the city consolidates its offices into the building and expands. 

"Well, I think it would be a good idea for any number of reasons, not the least of which is expansion for the future. If it's something they can use as a source of revenue for now, terrific. Every time you build a facility like that, sooner or later you outgrow it," he said. "Get them all into one place where they are all in your facility. And like I said, it's not going to get any cheaper if they decide to put it on the shelf for five years."

Final designs on the town square project are expected by June. Construction on the Park Blocks and farmers market is slated to begin later this year and be finished by spring 2021. City Hall is expected to be completed in 2022.

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