'I think this is the best thing we can do for this community'

A $60 million development will double the footprint of the 5th Street Public Market in Eugene, the Obie Companies say. (SBG)

EUGENE, Ore. - Before the collection of shops and restaurants was the 5th Street Public Market, the building housed a poultry business. That's why you see roosters positioned around the market.

Now Obie Companies, which owns the 42-year-old market, plans to take what's working - and double it.

Brian Obie and his grandson, Casey Barrett, from the Obie Companies unveiled plans for a $60 million expansion.

The plan calls for housing; a boutique hotel, named for Obie's father, Gordon; and more of the unique shopping experience that has made the 5th Street Market a cornerstone of downtown Eugene.

"It takes a village to raise a child," Obie said, "but I can tell you it takes a community to build a project like this."

Obie noted the project's ties to the city's past, all the way back to the founding of Eugene.

"If I was to dedicate today to one person, you might be interested in who it would be," he said. "It would be Eugene Skinner."

The former mayor and city councilor talked about his and his family's long involvement in the community as part of his motivation to build on the success of the 5th Street Market and the Inn at the 5th.

"To me it is important to me that this life I have makes a contribution to the society that we live in," he said, "and I think this is the best thing we can do to for this community, to help revitalize downtown and get going, create something that people want to come too, for years and years ahead."

Obie's grandson Barrett said that, to his family, this is more than just a development.

"This is not just a business to us, this is not just a way to get a meal at the end of the day," he said. "This is something we care about we love to do and we look forward to doing more of it."

Obie Companies is partnering with the group Homes for Good to support the construction of a new affordable housing project right across the street from the new Gordon Hotel.

"I can tell you, without hesitation, this has been the most positive, dynamic, public-private partnership," said Jacob Fox with Homes for Good.

The project is planned for a parking lot across the street from the existing market. Lane County leased the land to Obie Companies for 99 years. The chair of the Lane County board of commissioners, Jay Bozievich, shared a story about visiting Eugene in 1992, discovering the 5th Street Market - and the influence that had on his decision to move across the country to live here.

Obie Companies hopes to break ground later this year, with a goal to complete construction by the 2021 IAAF World Championship.

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