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Old 05-18-2010, 01:01 PM
 
12 posts, read 28,945 times
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I've lived in Eugene now for about 6 months. I've learned to get around town with fewer dead end turns or finding myself on one-way streets to nowhere, while reasonably understand the obvious differences in neighborhoods. However, I read and hear much about the problems and challenges of downtown Eugene. But where is it? What I believe is considered Eugene's "downtown" is much too large an area to be considered this small city's business and social core. Eugene cannot expect such a large area to attain the synergy necessary for any of its citizens to feel comfortable and safe wondering within its boundaries. Like Boulder CO. and many other successfully integrated (and diversified) small city cores, there must be a contiguous, unbroken area, containing many of the retail business and social elements that make a vibrant, sustainable, downtown. Having to negotiate canyons of under utilized streets just to find parking or get from one quality entity to another, will never work. Eugene needs to radically reduce the downtown redevelopment area, while making it financially attractive to move successful entities into that core space. Once the dynamic business and social entities are co-located, the numbers and mix of people seeking this environment should naturally increase, even if parking is an issue. Once redevelopment takes hold, other entities can then open on the boundaries, growing the downtown core area in a sustainable way.
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Old 05-18-2010, 06:19 PM
Status: "He/him" (set 1 day ago)
 
Location: Raleigh, NC
5,717 posts, read 7,129,765 times
Reputation: 4311
I don't think there's actually a question in your post? The topic of downtown development has been discussed for decades by the city of Eugene. People laugh at Springfield, but at least they don't debate an issue for 5-10 years before making a decision. I liked Eugene when I lived there, but I do agree that they could have a better downtown. I almost never went there. I spent more time patronizing restaurants and shops in my old neighborhood near 28th & Willamette.
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Old 05-18-2010, 06:27 PM
 
57 posts, read 155,832 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LonePine View Post
Eugene needs to radically reduce the downtown redevelopment area, while making it financially attractive to move successful entities into that core space.
If you are referring to the downtown urban renewal district area, it is actually very small in size (about 18 blocks). The urban renewal plan amendment (http://www.eugene-or.gov/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_2_357800_0_0_18/Proposed%20DT%20Urban%20Renewal%20Plan%20March%202 010_web.pdf - broken link) that is currently being considered by the City Council envisions enlarging this area in order to attract the VA clinic downtown. If the city succeeds in doing so, and manages to redevelop the CentreCourt property and get the LCC building constructed, it would give downtown a major boost.
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Old 05-19-2010, 01:04 PM
 
Location: Eugene, OR
231 posts, read 732,482 times
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I go to downtown Eugene quite often and don't have any real problems with it. There are quite a few good restaurants (Steelhead, 5th st, Cornocopia, Anatolia, Bagel Sphere, Ambrosia, La Bufa Taqueria, etc.). I also bought my leather sofa set at ScanDesign downtown. There are quite a few art galleries scattered around, and my wife and I have joined the "art walk" a few times. I took an adult education class (EspaƱol) at the current LCC building.

The biggest issue seems to be the bus station right in the middle. As with all such bus stations, it tends to attract some itinerants (An itinerant is a person who travels from place to place with no fixed home). I have read that the library front door area has become a hangout area and some people complain about this, but I have never been there, so I can not comment on that one.

The section of Broadway that they tried (very unsuccessfully) to update a few years ago is the biggest joke of all. That section is still a mini "ghost town" of shutdown store fronts. Just proves that city council members should not be put in charge of commercial issues; they just don't have the commercial sense or experience to know the right way to do something like this (and they are easily fooled by developers who just want money).

So...uhhh...what was the question again?
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Old 05-19-2010, 01:32 PM
 
6,061 posts, read 13,820,693 times
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We only find ourselves near downtown for the Library and once in a blue moon (when we're ready to face the crowds) the Saturday Market. Somehow going downtown just doesn't feel very convenient, we don't like having to pay for parking, and there's not much to draw us there. We used to like the Fifth Street Market but since the redo we don't like it as much. Too fussy or pretentious or trying to be "upscale" or something. It's the same reason we don't go to the Crescent Village shops off of Crescent in north Eugene near Costco even though we live just up the street and ride our bikes through there quite a bit. Those places feel more like California than Oregon to us. We don't even like VRC mall, though, either. Maybe we're just oddballs.

You know what I wish Eugene had? A real honest to goodness Irish Pub. If they had one downtown, we'd go there even if we did have to pay to park and step over wasted youth and homeless people to get back to our car (with hopes that it was still there and hadn't been broken into...)
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Old 05-19-2010, 01:37 PM
 
6,061 posts, read 13,820,693 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Eugenified View Post
...
The biggest issue seems to be the bus station right in the middle. As with all such bus stations, it tends to attract some itinerants (An itinerant is a person who travels from place to place with no fixed home). I have read that the library front door area has become a hangout area and some people complain about this, but I have never been there, so I can not comment on that one.

...
You can avoid the front door issue by parking or riding your bike underneath and going in that way. Sometimes I've seen a security person down there, sometimes not... but I don't think I've ever seen homeless or questionable people down there. Smells better and feels safer so that's what we always do. They should just board up the front doors and put a soup kitchen out there or something. Or maybe just have military recruiters or job recruiters out there - get the people employed!
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Old 05-19-2010, 09:17 PM
 
625 posts, read 1,253,851 times
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I too was surprised by the lack of vibrancy for this college city of 150,000. I did go to the farmers' market and it was amazing. Then again, one of my friends from there said when they had a downtown pedestrian mall, all you'd see are a few sketchy teenagers and a wet dog ... hope it is changing!

Just a few comments:

- it seems to me Eugene "benefitted" from a lot of urban renewal $$$ in the 70s - lots of 70s style buildings with no windows or storefronts on the street, ped mall & plaza, parking decks spanning tunnel-like roads, etc. Not to mention that wierd highway overpass west of downtown. But, it does seem like there is a strong base of employers ...
- is there a website showing me where businesses are, where to park, whats going on? Jeez, isn't this a progressive city with educated people? Bellingham, WA has amazing websites for Fairhaven and Downtown business districts. Is there a Business Improvement District with funding, staffed by non-city employees, who can take on marketing and business retention?
- I would advise anyone to check out "Turning Around Downtown: Twelve Steps to Downtown Revitalization" by the Brookings Institute. Good advice here based on experiences of many downtown successes and failures.
Aside from the Bus. Improvement District, they advise to start with housing as that's the strongest initial market. I saw a bit but not a lot of housing when I visited. Practically, however, this will mean having places in your downtown that allow at least 5-story buildings (65'). Maybe you already do. This is practically what developers are able to build and keep it affordable, unless you have a market for super-high priced smaller buildings and choose to go that direction, or want to throw enormous subsidies at them. Most NW cities allow 75' (again see Bellingham), as that aligns with construction types that are feasible. If this makes you uncomfortable, just remember that downtown living is inherently sustainable as people drive less and use less energy.

Hope this is at least an interesting post ...
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Old 05-19-2010, 09:38 PM
 
15 posts, read 37,578 times
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for the authentic irish pub feel check out sam bond's on blair street on sunday evenings-- fantastic irish music, nice neighborhood pub! they have a website that indicates what kind of music is playing, appears to have live music most evenings!
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Old 05-20-2010, 01:28 AM
 
1,592 posts, read 3,130,626 times
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I kind of like the way that downtown has developed. It has a number of long time, stalwart establishments, like the Kiva, the WOW Hall, various music stores, the Library, etc. These are quality, unique places, and they reflect the local culture.
Then there are always newer businesses, which come and go, some wannabe upscale type places, all sorts of resaurants, and some genuinely sleazy but fun places. The different elements balance each other out well and leave something for everyone, without the whole area becoming too yuppie, seedy, or bland.
Lately, when the weather has been good, downtown is bustling and alive. Cruise around on a nice evening sometime, you may be surprised. It reminds me of downtown Portland.
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Old 06-03-2010, 01:29 PM
 
3 posts, read 4,133 times
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[ We used to like the Fifth Street Market but since the redo we don't like it as much. Too fussy or pretentious or trying to be "upscale" or something. It's the same reason we don't go to the Crescent Village shops off of Crescent in north Eugene near Costco even though we live just up the street and ride our bikes through there quite a bit. Those places feel more like California than Oregon to us. We don't even like VRC mall, though, either. Maybe we're just oddballs.


I totally agree about the redo of Fifth street, never go there anymore. Used to be my favorite place for a lunch with a friend and a little shopping. No character and hardly any shops left now.
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