- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - Eugene’s public water and electric utility has chosen the University of Oregon Foundation over two real estate development companies to handle the transformation of 17 acres of vacant waterfront property.

The Eugene Water & Electric Board hopes to sell or lease the property near its headquarters along the Willamette River to pay down debt, the Register-Guard reported Wednesday (https://bit.ly/1Eup1ra ).

A five-member board elected by voters runs the utility, which has been working on a master plan for the property.

The nonprofit foundation manages the university’s private gifts and has assets of more than $900 million.

The other two proposals came from the Portland office of Trammell Crow Co. and Portland-based Williams & Dame Development.

The foundation’s proposal calls for redeveloping the property over the course of 10 years, including high-density housing and a hotel. A warehouse and steam plant would be reused. The foundation has announced that Lorane winery owner Ed King is interested in opening a restaurant in the warehouse.

The vote Tuesday for the foundation was 4-0. The fifth commissioner is Steve Mital, a university employee who abstained because he was concerned about a perceived conflict of interest.

Commissioner John Simpson said that “while all the applicants are capable of delivering, I feel the University of Oregon Foundation has a specific, built-in, long-term anchored interest in this community, which cannot be replicated by the other applicants easily.”

Sandra Bishop, former president of the utility board, objected, saying the foundation isn’t the right organization for the job.

“They are not set up as developers,” said Bishop, who served on the board when EWEB launched its master planning effort. “They cannot show you a track record of developments like the other two developers can.”

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Information from: The Register-Guard, https://www.registerguard.com

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