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Eugene’s Corners Need Love

September 4th, 2022 by dk

It’s time for Eugene to stretch itself. We’re building up in the center and along major transportation corridors. At last, some taller projects that aren’t part of the speculative student housing mix. It always bothered me that the tallest neon sign that visitors saw entering from the Ferry Street Bridge was atop Eugene Hotel, where they can’t stay.

More density will ease pressure to expand the urban growth boundary. It also aids mass transit, which will become essential. Our future growth shouldn’t create traffic jams.

This upward trend is welcome, but don’t overlook unique opportunities in the corners of Eugene. Think of Eugene as a huge tent covering 40 square miles. Height in the center benefits from solid anchors on the edges. Lane Community College and the Eugene Airport deserve some love.

Steve McQuiddy offered a vision for Eugene’s southeast corner in a column on these pages last month. Is it time for Lane County to move its fairgrounds and events center near the LCC campus? Would a new baseball stadium for the Emeralds be more welcome in an area without an established residential neighborhood?

Salem has done well with a minor league baseball stadium that’s visible from I-5. The Lane Titans will be delighted to share a facility with the Ems. The County Fair and other events could benefit from the visibility and accessibility that the interstate provides.

Maybe the stadium should be at LCC but the event center stays near downtown. Or vice versa. The City Club of Eugene could schedule a series of presentations this fall to explore all the options, out loud, together.

Meanwhile, in the city’s opposite corner, the Eugene Airport continues punching above its weight. The city has twice requested development proposals for an on-site hotel, but the response has been underwhelming.

They should try again, except this time seeking three hotels — of various styles and sizes — adjacent to the airport, not just one. The city should be ready to build an exhibit hall and conference rooms that can be shared between all three hoteliers.

If the city couldn’t attract one airport hotel, why would a plan to build three do better? Don’t ask me. Ask Burger King and Wendy’s. Why do they prefer locations near a McDonald’s? Each legitimizes the others.

As Eugene grows in population and reputation, we can support multiple hubs of visitor activity. Restaurants and downtown businesses have benefited from having large events that draw hundreds of visitors to Eugene’s main conference center and Lane County’s events center. Our downtown can thrive now without locking conventioneers to sites near downtown.

Like the fairgrounds and our baseball team, the airport serves as a regional asset. Building a meeting hub adjacent to the airport also supports another regional asset.

Lane Transit District has considered adding scheduled service to the airport multiple times in recent years. It just doesn’t pencil out. Those who travel by air will rent a car or call a taxi. But forcing travelers into cars from our airport is not “on brand” for Eugene. 

Arcimoto envisions autonomous electric vehicles someday ferrying passengers from the airport. The Gordon Hotel already offers a shuttle for its guests. Options will multiply, but LTD should be in the mix.

Hotel workers will use a bus service daily, making the route viable for travelers as well. It won’t be an EmX line that stretches all the way from the airport to Lane Community College, but it paves the way. Because the future will come, we just don’t know how soon.

Pounding tent pegs in these two corners will make our future growth more predictable and manageable, under this big tent we call home.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Wednesday and Sunday for The Register-Guard and archives past columns at

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