Construction begins this month on some of the greenest housing digs ever built in Eugene-LCC's downtown apartment building for 250 students.
"Sustainability is one of the college's core values," said Lane Community College spokesman Brett Rowlett. The LCC housing is part of its $53-million downtown campus project in the Sears pit across from the library.
Instead of sticking spades into some green farm field on the sprawling edge of town served by an expensive freeway, officials plan to "break ground" tomorrow at 10:30 am by slinging dirt into the pit. The LCC project will recycle the enduring eyesore into model green density offering car-free, low carbon, low-cost living and a much-needed redevelopment spark to the heart of the city.
The five-story, 87,000 square-feet apartment building will include serve students with a mix of single, double and quadruple apartments and studios. The building's ground floor will have a campus store and meeting rooms.
The building's carbon footprint per resident will likely be far less than even the greenest low energy homes built in Eugene. Apartments, with their shared walls and floors, share heating and cooling. They also share infrastructure, greatly reducing the embodied energy carbon impact of building materials. In addition, LCC plans a LEED Gold certified building with some of the latest insulation, appliance and lighting techniques for reducing power.
But, since most Eugene electricity to run buildings is from hydropower, the building's greatest carbon reduction benefit may be simply it's downtown location.
Students going to classes downtown or to LCC's business services office will have to walk just steps to the adjacent 90,000 square-foot LEED Platinum academic center. To get to LCC's main campus, students can cross the street to LTD's main transit hub, for frequent buses running to the campus in just 17 minutes. The LTD bus station also offers express EmX routes to the UO, downtown Springfield, RiverBend hospital and Gateway Mall, a future EmX route planned for West Eugene and other direct bus connections to destinations all over town.
Just a few more steps away is downtown Eugene-offering one of the nation's best city libraries, restaurants, bars, music clubs, Kiva groceries, the Hult Center, coffee shops and bakeries and the largest concentration of jobs in the region.
The student housing will also include significant bike parking. City code for bike parking requires one bike parking space for each two residents in a dormitory.
In perhaps its greenest element, the apartment building will not include a parking garage for cars. Not including car parking in a building can save up to $50,000 per space in construction costs, substantially reducing rents.
More parking isn't needed in the area. The city's six downtown parking garages with more than 2,500 total spaces stand half empty, according to past city parking studies. The LCC housing is across the street from two city garages at Broadway Place (almost 800 spaces 80 percent empty) and under the Library. The city's massive Overpark and Parcade city garages are just a two block walk.
Counting private lots, downtown has more than 15,000 parking spaces-four times more parking than Gateway Mall. Downtown parking is so underused, that the city recently removed hundreds of meters to provide free on-street parking.
LCC's Rowlett doesn't expect LCC will have trouble filling the green housing. He said a housing market study found high demand for student apartments downtown. "There was a definite need," he said.
Rowlett said the housing will go first to LCC students and then to UO students if space is available. Rowlett said he expects residents will reflect LCC's diverse group of students, including many older, returning students and some international students.
The community college creatively cobbled together financing for the building from a variety of sources including $9 million in voter approved LCC bonds, $8 million in urban renewal funding from the city and $5 million in tax credits with the remainder coming from a combination of other federal tax credits, energy tax credits, bond sales and grants.
LCC plans to fast-track construction on the green downtown housing with completion by fall 2012 and doors opening January 2013.
Here's a look at LCC's two minute promotional video for the downtown campus project:
Friday November 19th is World Toilet Day.
Would clean friendly restrooms solve some of our downtown issues?
Portland has installed 24-hour solar powered potties and folks say it helps, according to the Oregonian.
For nearly two years, Portland’s first 24-hour public restroom — the Portland Loo, in Old Town — has been a couple blocks from Park Kitchen restaurant, where Anna Josephson is a general manager. And for nearly two years, Josephson has pointed noncustomers in that direction.
"Having a public restroom downtown has definitely alleviated some of the weight of accommodating nondiners in the area," Josephson said.
The city is installing two more of the restrooms and working on a fourth.
Some Portlanders were worried having access to restrooms would increase illegal activities, but apparently that's been less of an issue than expected, the Oregonian reports.
Portland-based toilet advocacy group Phlush was instrumental in getting the public potties installed.
For more information on the Portland Loo and how much they cost (in case Eugeneans decide to go to work on toilet advocacy), check out it out here.
(And potty humor aside, toilets are considered by many to not only be a human rights issue, but a key health and sanitation issue. UNICEF estimates that lack of sanitation kills 1.8 million people, mostly children, a year. )
The city of Eugene is planning to spend $16 million to move its police to a new headquarters across the river from most crime.
Here's a map from a website the police department uses to map their crime data. The map shows violent crimes since March. The blue arrow depicts where the police headquarters is now (red dot) and where City Manager Jon Ruiz is planning to move it.
In the worst blow to downtown since the hospital left, the Eugene City Council voted 6-2 today to move the police department out of the heart of the city.
Critics charge that the $16-million plan to buy an office building on Country Club Road for the police department will cripple downtown, defy three votes, waste money, increase polluting sprawl and congestion, increase earthquake and flooding risk and reduce police accountability while damaging civic pride.
But Mayor Kitty Piercy and Councilors Mike Clark, Jennifer Solomon, Chris Pryor, George Poling, Andrea Ortiz and Alan Zelenka supported the move. Councilors Betty Taylor and George Brown voted against it.
"This is a terrible deal for the city," said Councilor Brown. The only one benefiting will be speculator Ward Beck, Brown said. "He will be able to unload an under-performing property."
Mayor Piercy said she supports moving police out of downtown and cut off Taylor and Brown's comments opposing the move after allowing staff to repeat a twenty minute sales pitch on the proposal that the council had already heard.
"We are rushing through this because someone wants to sell a building," said Councilor Taylor. "We haven't considered any other possibilities." Taylor noted the $16 million exclusive deal with Beck wasn't subject to the normal competitive bidding process governments use to prevent corruption.
Brown said the $16 million could be better used to hire more police officers. "This project does nothing for public safety, all it does is buy a huge building for 30 employees to wander around in," said Brown, noting the police chief's statement that only a few officers will spend much time in the 66,000 square-foot building.
Brown moved that the council refer the big expenditure to voters. Piercy refused to allow debate on the motion and the referral vote failed 6-2.
Voters have rejected spending money on a new police station three times in the past. Taylor pleaded with the council to not waste the taxpayer money. "People say 'our money,'" she said noting comments by staff and council supporters. "It isn't ours, it belongs to the public."
(For details on the police move, please read a story in Thursday's EW to be posted here.
The Eugene City Council voted 6-2 today to move forward with spending $16 million in reserves to move the police department to a commercial office building across the river next to the Eugene Country Club.
The motion was to bring back a purchase option for the privately owned building. â€œItâ€™s the next logical step,â€ said Councilor Alan Zelenka.
The council vote defies the will of the voters who have defeated ballot measures for a new police station three times. Councilors Betty Taylor and George Brown opposed the motion. Councilors Alan Zelenka, George Poling, Jennifer Solomon, Chris Pryor, Andrea Ortiz and Mike Clark voted for it. Mayor Kitty Piercy votes only in case of a tie and did not take an intelligible position on the controversy.
In a dramatic departure of longstanding city policy against urban sprawl and for supporting downtown and keeping it safe, Eugene City Manager Jon Ruiz told the city council Thursday that he wants to move the entire Eugene police department out of downtown to a commercial office building across the river in North Eugene.
Ruiz said in a memo to the council that he would buy the isolated office building at 300 Country Club Road surrounded by surface parking lots from a private developer for $16 million. He said he would then spend $6 million more to move all city hall functions out of the current city hall building and into downtown space rented from other developers.
The $22 million expenditure plus unidentified millions more in annual rent payments and moving costs comes as the city has announced it will cut back on services to citizens and increase fees to close a widening budget gap of at least $12 million due to the deep recession. New offices, particularly free of downtown employee parking fees, is a top priority of city staff, but polls have shown taxpayers oppose the expenditure.
The Eugene City Council plans to vote on the big change in years of city hall planning without a public hearing on Wednesday. Based on past positions, the vote could be close.
Remember all the hype last fall in The Register-Guard and local TV news that crime downtown was frightening people away from the Eugene public library?
Library visits were up 21 percent last year, the largest increase in five years, according to the libraryâ€™s recent annual report.
Hereâ€™s a shot of the relevant table and other indicators of increasing library use from the report:
The scary library hype was part of a successful campaign to pass an exclusion ordinance by exaggerating crime downtown, which police statistics show was in reality declining. The exclusion zone allows the city to ban people from downtown without a criminal conviction and was opposed by civil liberties groups.