South Lane School District (SLSD) board members unanimously voted on Jan. 6 to begin negotiations with local developer Blackstone Building Community to develop housing on the old Harrison Elementary School property.
Following the property’s rezoning from R1 to R2 in July last year, the district posted a request for proposal (RFP) in September and subsequently selected three proposals for consideration by committee.
“It was the goal of the board to meet the needs of the community while selling the property,” said Interim Assistant Superintendent Brian McCasline. “And this process of a site design concepts and development RFP fit their needs.”
The district laid out several goals in its search for the property’s redevelopment plans, which included meeting community housing needs, achieving long-term economic success, ensuring public interest, establishing financing options and considering sustainability.
The board previously voted to sell the property for a fixed amount of $400,000 under the stipulation that the developer “complete abatement, and/or removal of asbestos and lead paint in the building or demolition and removal of the building.”
Blackstone Building Community’s proposal was selected over two others, one of which was also submitted by Blackstone Building Community.
“The main differences between the proposal that was chosen and the two that were not was that the proposal that was chosen had more housing … and also the type of ownership,” McCasline said.
The selected proposal estimates between 90-100 units can be built on the 8.64-acre property, consisting of a mixture of housing such as duplexes and single-family homes. It also allows for home ownership as opposed to management.
The homes are targeting potential homeowners who fall between 80-120 percent of median household income with an estimated price range between $195,000 to $295,000 per home.
United States Census Bureau data puts Cottage Grove’s median household income at $47,316 per year.
A proposal by Homes for Good, Lane County’s low-income housing agency, was passed over by the board. The agency proposed a target demographic of individuals and families making 50-80 percent of median household income, though the proposal did not allow for the degree of home ownership sought by the board.
Though a need for more low- and middle-income housing development was highlighted in the city’s 2018 Housing Needs Analysis, the city’s low vacancy rate necessitates a general increase in housing stock as well.
In the 20-year plan recommended by the analysis, it suggested building an average of 69 dwelling units annually to meet the projected need of 1,379 more units by 2038, a number which would be a challenge to reach if single-family detached homes continue as a development trend. The analysis stated that as of 2016, these homes make up about 75 percent of the city’s housing index.
“More housing is one of the goals,” said McCasline. “Another goal of the school district is to be able to house our staff here. In the school district’s interest, we have lost some staff in the past – and in the very near past – to positions in Eugene and Springfield where there’s housing available.”
The $400,000 from the property sale will be directed toward maintenance on district buildings.