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Eugene's Joe Romania Building to see changes

(SBG photo)

EUGENE, Ore. -- You might know this Eugene building as one that looks like a "potato chip,” but it's called the Joe Romania building.

Now the University of Oregon is considering opening the historic site to provide more parking spaces.

The Romania building carries a lot of sentimental meaning in town, so naturally, there are questions about any potential changes, especially for one University of Oregon professor who says he knew the original architect well.

Architect and UO professor Otton Poticha said: “Innovation, experimentation, and invention is exactly what this building is."

The Romania is located near Orchard and Franklin Boulevard. It’s a building that Otto said represents Eugene's history.

"There it is, see, Coca Cola Bottling Company of Eugene," said Otto pointing to the old Coc-Cola sign.

Otto knows that history well. In the '50's, the building was home to a Coca-Cola factory, then a Chevy dealership in the 60's.

"In this case, it was the backdrop of the shiny great big chrome plated wild and crazy cars of that era," said Otto.

Otto was also business partners for 20 years with the Romania’s designer, Grant Seeder. "And this one I thought he cared a lot about," he said, pointing to the Romania.

The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places for its unique look.

But on July 5, the property owner -- the University of Oregon -- asked the city to open parking spaces.

Said University of Oregon's spokesman Kelly McIver: "This is the area over here, (points near Franklin Street) that will have the new spaces put on it."

"This is just a good opportunity to take a site that really couldn't be developed for other buildings, other academic purposes,” said McIver.

The facility is currently used for classes and parking, but McIver said parking off-campus, at the Romania, will help the campus "be green."

Most importantly though, "The building won't be touched; essentially, the appearance will remain the same,” said McIver.

The city says it will take time to review the application for opening the parking spaces. However, it won't mean too many changes to the property, and estimates it'll have the answer for the university's plan in 2 to 3 months.

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