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Friday, February 19, 2010

Fake New York taking over Eugene

A concerned reader down in the Emerald City reports:

I know you've occasionally made posts about some of the "Portland-esque" schemes that pop up from time to time down here in Eugene, and the unfortunate news is that it's getting considerably worse here. As such, I thought I'd pass on the latest disaster "down south."

I live not far from the university and the commercial district that lies along East 13th and Alder, on the west side of the UO campus and just east of Sacred Heart hospital, which is made up of predominantly small one-story buildings, the majority of which are occupied by locally-owned businesses. Anyways, I wound up waking up this past Saturday morning to the sound of backhoes, and upon going outside, found that the building that had housed Lazar's Tobacco on 13th (and apparently had been used for a time by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight when they were just starting out, way back when) was completely gone. Just a big gap between Cafe Roma and McKenzie Outfitters.

A couple days later, a sign was erected in the spot showing what was intended for the site: a monstrous 4-story condo bunker known as "The Gopuran Building". Smack dab in the university district. Talk about sticking out like a sore thumb.

They've been throwing in these giant monstrosities full of overpriced 3-and-4-bedroom apartments like crazy all over the West University District--heaven knows why, but it's a distressing to see. Between this stuff and the Walnut Station plan along Franklin Boulevard, it seems like it's only a matter of time before Eugene is filled with the same kind of Fake New York nonsense that's taking over Portland.

Comments (14)

Other than the poor taste of the developer, what's the point of this post?

Is it financed by a negligent City Council through secret backroom deals or did the landowner simply decide to move into a different asset class?

"Gopuran Building" rolls off the tongue.

I'm surprised they're building anything right now, but I guess student housing adjacent to the university probably still pencils out.

You're going to see a lot of this in Eugene thanks to the University's decision to increase enrollment without building any more student housing. As Snards says, it pencils out beautifully. At this point, the UO doesn't even have enough dorms for freshmen.

Luckily, they do have a fabulous new arena on the way.

I get coffee on this block every day. It's a characterless mix of ugly, poorly built one and two story buildings. I think this thing looks like a major improvement, I hope it starts a trend.

Don't worry. Once the streetcars are in place everything will prosper!

I generally dislike condo bunkers, but commercial areas near the UO campus are due for some redevelopment, as UO Matters states. Obviously Eugene isn't Seattle, but the UW university district makes 13th seem like it's stuck in Animal House forever. It's glaring.

That being said, that style of building has no business there. Whatever happened to brick and mortar?

It's a characterless mix of ugly, poorly built one and two story buildings. I think this thing looks like a major improvement.

You're confusing land use and zoning issues with aesthetics. They're entirely different issues.

I've always wondered why so many armchair architects on here complain about urban development but hypocritically, they live in ticky-tacky, suburbia/subdivision tract style blah houses.

Thanks, but your living arrangements are more of a scourge on the built environment (and natural environment) than this edifice that is a whopping two-stories above the rest.

The issue is, the other buildings were probably zoned to be no more than 2 stories max "back in the day" per municipal regulation, so that's why the other buildings are so low-slung.

"Built environment"? The latest "charrette." Oh so precious.

I'm sure a 4-story bunker on that lot is going to be the linchpin.

Oooooh, impressive. Does it have a Facebook page, too?

I just don't get people's issues with stuff like this.

Why aren't you criticizing the typical, ugly cluster apartments that are everywhere? .

I know which development I think looks worse (and functions worse, too).

WS: maybe because those typical ugly cluster apartments are not squeezed into existing neighborhoods, provide enough parking for all of its residents, and do not require massive subsidies to pencil out.

Actually, those ample parking spaces increase rent costs for the unsuspecting buyers (even though these will cost more than most units, it is more due to supply/demand/location than anything else).

Who said anything about subsidies? Where's this coming from?

Most other non-clustered apartments still offer parking options, too, but their building frontages face the street (with street trees, people walking, and other cool stuff) instead of a convection oven asphalt parking lot with people's beat up junkers.

I don't know what you're talking about in regards to "squeezed" in. Here's an apartment next to a single-family residence in Eugene That's quite pleasing and not even intrusive.

Would it be better to chop down the nice forest/farmland on the fringe of Eugene and put up cluster apartments instead (with ample parking, of course)? The hippies would not like that one.

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