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4J Schools eyes EWEB's empty riverfront site for possible bid

EWEB for sale
Karen Richards
EWEB site with "FOR SALE" sign at Eugene's riverfront area.

A vacant EWEB facility at Eugene’s riverfront could soon house a local school district’s administrative offices.

EWEB declared its riverfront site at 500 E. 4th Ave. surplus back in 2018, with the City of Eugene waiving its right in 2021 to exclusively engage the utility on purchasing rights.

4J Superintendent Andy Dey says he toured the EWEB site last week. He says it’d need little modification to accommodate the offices of Oregon’s sixth largest school district, something less costly than building a new space.

“And not only is it more economically responsible, it helps us to be part of the riverfront development, so that the Eugene school district stays at the heart of the city as it is now, and as it grows. That’s really important to us.”

Brian Bull
4J Superintendent Andy Dey.

Dey also told KLCC that cultural groups such as NATIVES and the Black Student Union could be housed at the site. And with the available kitchen facility, it could also become a culinary incubator for emerging restaurants. The 4J District offices at 500 N. Monroe would be moved to the EWEB site, allowing more instructional learning there.

Dey says EWEB has been made aware of 4J’s interest in the property. He declined to share what type of bid the district would be willing to make, adding that there will be much discussion and negotiations ahead.

An EWEB spokesman says they’ve heard from multiple potential buyers, and its board will evaluate proposals in the coming weeks. In a written statement emailed to KLCC, EWEB added:

“The path to a sale has involved robust community involvement. In 2022, EWEB conducted a formal Request for Proposals process that generated community interest and enthusiasm for the property. However, none of the proposals submitted met all the criteria EWEB had established. So EWEB’s Board of Commissioners canceled the RFP and granted authority to the General Manager to pursue and negotiate the sale of the buildings within guidance parameters. The General Manager will be working closely with the Board throughout this current stage of the process.”

@2023, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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