'A project doesn't happen like this out of the blue and magically'

      EUGENE, Ore. - A $67 million downtown development took a step forward Tuesday when the Lane County Commission approved a 99-year lease agreement with a development group headed by former Eugene mayor and 5th Street Market owner Brian Obie.

      Obie and his investors envision a string of buildings on two-acres along east 6th and Oak streets on land owned by Lane County.

      The proposal calls for an urban village with 160 affordable apartments, retail, a grocery store based on the 1915 Eugene Producers Market, and a movie house.

      "A project doesn't happen like this out of the blue and magically," said Commissioner Sid Leiken. "It happens from folks who are willing to take the risk."

      Obie has partnered with the Housing and Community Services Agency of Lane County to include subsidized apartments in the complex.

      "People talk about tipping points," Commissioner Jay Bozievich said. "This development could be that tipping point for Eugene."

      Obie told the board the development goes beyond self interest.

      "There's been a lot of discussion about potentially a location, a year round location for a farmers market or a producers market," he said.

      That appealed to Commissioner Peter Sorenson.

      "We have this opportunity to recreate what 100 years ago we had right here in downtown Eugene," he said.

      Obie doesn't expect construction to begin for another 2 years.

      The ground lease terms call for HACSA to pay $1.3 million upon closing of construction financing for the project. Obie's Market District development firm would pay 3 percent of the land value annually for the first 5 years. After that, the lease calls for 5 percent of the land avlue, adjusted every 5 years.