Eugene to move forward with mixed-income housing plans at old LCC site

Now that The Montgomery proposals have been approved by the city council, here's what's next.

Posted: Oct 20, 2021 7:00 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The Eugene City Council voted Wednesday to move forward with a project that will bring more mixed-income housing to downtown Eugene.

Councilors discussed the ongoing plans for the old Lane Community College site at 1059 Willamette St. at their meeting.

The Montgomery is set to be completed by 2025. Developers on the project proposed a 129-unit building with 66 units for income-qualified individuals -- people making 80% of the average median income (AMI) -- and 63 rented at market price.

RELATED: Eugene council approves plan to turn old LCC site into mixed-income housing

The councilors, whose vote was unanimous, all said they are thrilled for this project and said it will do some good for the future. 

But there were some councilors who voiced concerns about the state of affordable housing in the city. Councilor Alan Zelenka said he doesn't believe the city will be able to move forward with affordable housing if they continue to hand out subsidies. 

"As far as I can tell, we're a year and a half into it or longer, and the only affordable housing units we are going to get are units that we subsidize in programs like this," said Zelenka. "Otherwise the market and the home building community is not building any affordable housing units as far as I can tell."

Zelenka said he still thinks this will be a good addition for people with mixed incomes. 

KEZI 9 News spoke to Dr. Gerard Mildner, a real estate professor at Portland State University. He said there are better ways to get better housing for low-income people. 

"The most efficient way to help out the poor is to give them a portable voucher because they'll be able to buy existing housing on the housing market which is closer to the quality levels that they would normally spend their money on, at a much lower price," said Mildner. 

He also said subsidizing isn't always in the best interest of a city. 

This mixed income housing unit couldn't come soon enough for the city of Eugene. Rent is historically expensive, with the average being about $1,500 per month. 

Cheyenne Isgro is a junior at the University of Oregon. She said it took awhile for her and her mom to find a place to live. She said she had to quit her job because of school. 

"I'm doing 17 credits right now, so I'm using my student loans to pay my portion of the rent," said Isgro. 

Isgro said she has low-income housing in Eugene to thank for getting her and her mom off the streets. 

"If it weren't for that low-income housing, then we wouldn't be able to live here," she said. 

MORE: Report: Eugene renters spend most of their income on rent

Now that The Montgomery proposals have been approved by the city council, the city and the development team will now have to enter a legal agreement to transfer the property and begin a due diligence period. 

According to the team's plan, they will also enter a Multi-Unit Property Tax Exemption (MUPTE) application process, which includes public engagement, a review panel, and council action. The team hopes to close on the property and start construction no later than 15 months after the property transfer agreement is signed by the city. 

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