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Goodpasture Island area may see large, dense development

The Register-Gaurd

April 22nd 2008

A cutting-edge Portland design team is drawing up plans for a high-density housing project o about 18 acres off Goodpasture Island Road on property owned by PeaceHealth.

It’s an attractive piece of land with a long stretch of river frontage.

A group of seven engineers and architects led by Portland developer Brent Keys met with the city staff last week about changing the zoning on the land to “limited high-density residential,” up from medium density. If approved, the new designation would allow up to 56 housing units per acre in buildings as tall as four or five stories.

“It’s really an exciting project and (the architects) have done some interesting work in Portland,”

Eugene planner Lydia McKinney said. “It seems like this developer would have some real opportunities to think outside of the box.”

Beyond those broad outlines, the details are sketchy and PeaceHealth is holding its cards close to its vest. It’s still unclear who ultimately will own the project, what exactly they’ll build and how much it will cost, and when the development will get under way.

“We’re just not going to comment on business transactions like that,” said Jenny Ulum, interim PeaceHealth public affairs director. “There’s nothing to discuss.”

The developer’s contacts with the city, however, have left a trail of hints about what may transpire on the land - which is riddled already with wooden stakes and neon ribbon.

PeaceHealth has owned the 18-plus acres since the mid-1980s.

The nonprofit hospital corporation announced in March 2007 that it would sell, not to the highest bidder, but to a bidder with a proposal that would “fit best with the neighborhood and the city,” a PeaceHealth spokesman said then.

In meetings with the Eugene officials, Keys left the impression that he would buy the land from PeaceHealth, McKinney said. A real estate broker was at the meeting.

“My understanding is it’s not PeaceHealth that’s developing the property,” McKinney said. “I did get the sense that he would be the one purchasing the property and paying for all the design folks who were at the meeting.”

Documents submitted to the city by the developer listed “Goodpasture Partners LLC” as the owner, however no sale has been recorded with Lane County deeds and records offices. The limited liability company was registered with the state October.

Documents submitted by Myhre Group Architects indicate that the project will involve high density multifamily housing. It’s a specialty of the Portland-based group, which has been involved with Gresham “transit-oriented developments,” which are urban-style projects that allow residents to commute by using convenient public transportation.

Myhre group designed the three-story Sandpines Golf Resort clubhouse in Florence and renovated the three-story The Sunriver Resort Lodge in Central Oregon. The firm boasts a long list of mixed-use projects in downtown Portland, Seattle and Bend. It has designed more than 1,000 apartment units in downtown Portland.

Myhre Group architect Keith Randolph appears to be leading the design team.

“They did mention a variety of housing types, so maybe we would see some combination of row houses apartments and condos - again, speculation only,” McKinney said.

The development team asked city officials about underground parking garages, meeting rooms and fitness centers.

Under the planned unit development process, the development could include neighborhood-scale retail development, such as food stores and coffee shops, McKinney said.

“They have indicated they’re interested in that mixed-use concept as well so they may propose that. That’s something we’d like to see,” she said.

The developer included four large parcels of land in his application. They include two empty lots owned by PeaceHealth and also two lots holding the Riverpark Living Center and Willamette Oaks retirement housing.

There were no clues about why he included the latter properties in the application. The proposed subdivision lines on a submitted drawing did not include those developed properties. There was no indication that the developer anticipates a change in use or ownership of those properties.
The developer is asking the city for a zoning change before he submits a development plan. The process will take three to four months.

Later, the developer most likely will be required to go through a planned unit development approval process, a traffic impact analysis and a Willamette Greenway permitting process. The latter is geared to protecting, among other features, the Ruth Bascom Riverbank Trail System.