The iconic Starbucks' twin-tailed mermaid is swimming deep into the heart of downtown Eugene.

Starbucks plans to join the growing list of businesses locating near Broadway Plaza, commonly known as Kesey Square.

The Seattle-based coffee company plans to open at 39 W. Broadway, at the corner of Broadway and Willamette Street, in the ground-floor retail space of the 16-unit apartment building developed by Steve Master.

A store locator on the company's website lists the store in downtown Eugene as one of its 18 outlets in Eugene -- including one just two blocks away from the new location -- and five in Springfield.

Businesses in the area -- even direct competitors -- welcomed Starbucks to the neighborhood. Several said they had heard the shop is aiming to open in October.

"I'm excited about them coming to the neighborhood," said Nicole Desch, owner of Heritage Dry Goods, a U.S.-made gifts and home furnishings store at 861 Willamette St. "I think that the mix of national chain brands as well as local independent retail is what's going to make downtown a thriving downtown."

Thomas Pettus-Czar, whose cafe/bar The Barn Light at Broadway Commerce Center will compete directly with Starbucks, said some people may be surprised by his response.

"I'm actually looking forward to it," he said. "I think it's important for a downtown of this size to have a good mixture of both local businesses and national chains that are recognizable to folks regardless from where they're coming."

People often resist big chains when they come into Eugene, Pettus-Czar said.

"Of course, some of their arguments are valid," he said, "but what they don't realize is having those big nationally known retailers come into town is a good thing for the local guys because it's something that's familiar and recognizable, and draws a segment of people who don't already come down here."

"I think having anyone in that space is better than having it vacant. It's such a pivotal corner on Broadway and Willamette."

Townshend's Eugene Teahouse, next door to Starbucks, also will compete with the coffee giant, which has been expanding its tea offerings.

"Most of their stores are carrying iced tea and chai --that is some competition for what we do," Townshend's manager Clare Bennett said.

Nonetheless, Bennett said, "I feel positive about it. I feel there are lots of businesses around us that offer beverages, as well, and there hasn't been a problem. The more people that come into downtown and the more foot traffic we get, the better off we all are."

"The Starbucks marketing people do excellent research on where up-and-coming neighborhoods are," Bennett said. "If their people have deemed Kesey Square an up-and-coming spot, that's good for everybody."

Sarah Bennett, president of the board of directors of Downtown Eugene Inc., said the nonprofit association of downtown property and business owners also is glad to see Starbucks moving into that prominent corner.

"If Starbucks is able to expand its downtown presence it means more street level retail activity for downtown," she said. "It's really a good fit for that corner and another win in our effort to continue the downtown revitalization."

Starbucks has 20,863 stores around the world and this year plans to add 1,500 stores, including 600 in North America, according to media reports.

Eugene may be the site for at least three of those. In addition to its interest in the location downtown, Starbucks is remodeling a former Wendy's restaurant at Willamette Street and 28th Avenue in south Eugene, and it filed draft plans this spring to build a restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating and a drive-through lane in a retail lot in the Shopko-anchored shopping center at Coburg Road and Chad Drive.

Starbucks' website said the store at 39 W. Broadway will be open 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Those are the same hours of operation as the existing Starbucks two blocks away at Pearl Street and East Broadway.

Follow Sherri on Twitter @sburimcdonald . Email sherri@registerguard.com .

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