Board approves next steps in Romania property redevelopment

The Board of Trustees of the University of Oregon gave a green light to negotiating a final redevelopment plan for UO’s Romania property at its meeting June 4.

With the board’s vote, the university can move ahead with talks on a 75-year ground lease agreement that enables the historic Joe Romania showroom structure to live on while also bringing to fruition a community vision to fill what is now a parking lot with a mixed-use development that could include a boutique hotel, offices, apartments and retail space.

The redevelopment concept, first presented in 2019, would preserve the Googie architectural element of the dealership showroom while enhancing areas close to campus. With the proposed agreement, the developer would assume all costs associated with redevelopment and operations, and the UO would receive annual revenue in the form of monthly payments with an option to repurchase the property when the lease runs out.

The Romania site is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and community members in the past few years have expressed interest in redeveloping the property at Franklin Boulevard and Orchard Street.

The concept of a multiuse development was first presented in January 2019, and public feedback was received at an open house in April last year. Construction is expected to begin in early 2022 and could take up to three years to complete.

A portion of the property is currently being used by Battelle to house decontamination equipment for use in the battle against COVID-19; that lease agreement will end before the expected start of construction.

“This is a win for the campus, the neighborhood and the city,” said Michael Harwood, associate vice president and university architect. “This project will take an underutilized property and turn it into an asset for our students, employees and neighbors while creating a vibrant gateway into the city of Eugene.”