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City of Eugene and EWEB confirm negotiations underway over riverfront property

The former EWEB headquarters at the riverfront.
Brian Bull
The former EWEB headquarters at the riverfront.

The former Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB) headquarters at Eugene’s riverfront appears destined to become the new City Hall.

In a release, the utility company says it’s focusing its negotiations over the property with Eugene officials. This follows a significant period of interest last year, involving a call for proposals for the nearly four-and-a-half acre site.

After nothing came of that, the EWEB board of commissioners gave general manager Frank Lawson sales authority. Spokesman Aaron Orlowski told KLCC that the city’s pitch had appeal, and that officials would use the space similarly to that of EWEB administrators when they used the riverfront space before declaring it surplus in 2018. 

In its own release, the City of Eugene confirms that the EWEB headquarters would provide space for an accessible City Hall, and that councilors will discuss terms of the purchase in the weeks ahead.

Both parties say there would be fewer renovations and construction needed because of that, saving rebuilding costs.

“The EWEB headquarters has the potential to be a responsible, smart location for multiple City services, including a permanent City Hall, that builds on previous investments, maintains a public asset and potentially saves taxpayers significant dollars in both the short and long term,” City Manager Sarah Medary stated in the release. “At the same time, this location increases public access to the historic riverfront property.”

While it’s unknown just how many other parties have looked into using the facility, 4J Schools had expressed just last week that it was seriously considering moving its offices into it.

The City of Eugene had waived its first rights to exclusively purchase the EWEB facility in 2021. Since then, officials' interest has returned as their pursuit of a new city hall has gone unresolved.

EWEB says under the City of Eugene’s proposal, the utility will be able to maintain a shared customer-facing space for paying utility bills and similar needs.

Other specifics - including sales price and timeline - remain unknown at this time.

©2023, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ 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 (22 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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