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Housing agency buys library site

Published on September 30, 2017 3:10AM

Last changed on September 30, 2017 7:00AM


Lane County’s low-income housing agency has bought a prominent piece of downtown Eugene real estate.

Housing and Community Services Agency of Lane County has bought the former downtown Eugene Public Library building on West 13th Avenue and Olive Street, according to a deed filed with the Lane County Clerk’s Office.

The agency paid $3.75 million for the building, HACSA Executive Director Jacob Fox said, taking out a 36-month loan to be repaid with $120,000 annual debt service payments and the eventual sale of its Eugene administrative office on Day Island Road. HACSA officials are still determining the final source of funds.

Kaiser Permanente, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit health plans, has operated a clinic in leased space in the 38,000-square-foot former library building since early last year.

HACSA eventually plans to sell its 10,000-square-foot Eugene headquarters next to Alton Baker Park, which the Lane County Assessor’s Office last year gave a $1.5 million market value.

The agency’s roughly 15,000-square-foot Springfield office, which includes its property maintenance department, is part of the HACSA-run McKenzie Village duplex development near Highway 126 and Pioneer Parkway. The agency could rent out the space or repurpose it for its own use, Fox said.

The properties total about 25,000 square feet, with the public agency’s 86 employees spread across the two locations.

“Over the last 18 months we’ve gone through a process of determining what our square footage and parking needs are, and where we should be in the community so we’re as easy as possible for people with low incomes to make it to our office,” Fox said, noting that bus lines should make the downtown Eugene office accessible.

HACSA considered building a new headquarters, but estimates based on their needs and current construction costs brought the projected total to about $10 million, Fox said.

Kaiser has a lease agreement in the building through June of 2020 that it signed with the previous owner, a business entity tied to current and former employees of the local engineering firm BHEGroup.

Fox said his agency won’t terminate the lease early.

“We’re honoring the current lease,” Fox said. “We’re going to be a commercial landlord for a few years.”

He said the purchase and planned move is part of a larger rebranding by HACSA, which will include changing the agency’s name, to be announced next year.

Established by the Lane County Board of Commissioners in 1949, HACSA is the county’s provider of Section 8 rental housing vouchers. It also owns and manages nearly 1,000 rental housing units across the county.

HACSA may not need the entire library building and could look for some smaller tenants to occupy part of the building when it moves there, Fox said.

Several small commercial tenants are on the second floor of the library building, while Kaiser leases 30,000 square feet of first floor and basement space.

Kaiser Permanente entered the Eugene market in January 2016 by opening the downtown Eugene clinic and a dental clinic near Valley River Center, serving patients who have Kaiser Permanente insurance plans. It employed 19 people downtown and seven at the dental clinic as of this spring.

In April, Kaiser signed a memo giving notice that it has agreed to buy land on Chad Drive from Guard Publishing Co., publisher of The Register-Guard, according to documents filed with Lane County.

Kaiser intends to buy the land on or before Jan. 6, 2019, according to the “Memorandum of Agreement of Purchase and Sale.”

Follow Elon on Twitter @EGlucklich . Email elon.glucklich@registerguard.com .



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