In April 2008 Eugene developer Hugh Prichard addressed the Rubicon Society of Lane County about the onerous building codes in Eugene which seemed to encourage developers and investors to go elsewhere to build. He insisted that was why downtown Eugene was in such a poor state of being. Prichard told the Rubicon Society that the then city council as well as the staff with their anti-growth policies had created a downtown that is no longer economically vibrant. Urban renewal and government intervention had stunted its growth.
Is that where Bend is now? We hear constant complaints about the length of time it gets to obtain a building permit, about the cost of the permits and excessive fees for anything out of the ordinary and worse, of late, of a planning department that carte blanches a DMV building into a neighbourhood without blinking an eye.
In Eugene, however, it appears Prichard’s mission may have finally made a difference.
A recent story in the Oregon Business magazine points out Eugene’s “efforts to reduce barriers to construction along with some substantial loans to downtown projects” that have helped boost their economy.
Bend might want to take some lessons on helping the local economy jump start the building industry especially with construction costs down 20 percent and so many construction people out of work. Eugene’s development strategy focuses on building “the social and physical infrastructure.” What is Bend’s?
Eugene is streamlining its permitting process so that instead of the permits taking weeks to obtain you can now get a permit in three hours.
Oregon Business reported that a 50,000-square-foot upscale hotel at the Fifth Street Public Market in Eugene is now under construction. The 69-room, $11 million project has received $600,000 in loans from the city. The city helped Brad Malsin, president of Portland-based Beam Development, acquire one of the downtown buildings with almost $10 million in loans. The city also helped fund Lane Community College’s downtown campus with $8 million in loans.
The City of Bend (Bend City Council) should have a priority conversation about the direction of the city and how important economic development should be to our future. pha