New zoning laws offer a unique opportunity to fill Lane County neighborhoods with affordable co-ops
By Cole Sinanian, originally published in the Eugene Weekly; photo by Todd Cooper
Melissa McReynolds reclines in a fluffy black folding chair in her upstairs apartment at 10th and C streets in Springfield. Behind her, a mountain bike hangs vertically on the wall, freeing up valuable space in the compact living room. Her orange and black tortoiseshell cat, Ava, crouches under McReynolds’ chair, green eyes fixated on something outside. McReynolds smiles and follows Ava’s gaze out the rain-streaked window.
“I just love the view,” she says. “When the weather’s nice you can see Spencer Butte.”
Aside from its unusual color scheme — half baby blue, half white, with a yellow front door and slidable, rustic wood shutters — the four-bedroom house in Springfield demands no more attention than the adjacent houses. To its right, a sloping wooden fence separates the property from the neighbors’ squat, sand-colored bungalow. A high school lies directly across the street.
C Street Co-op was developed by Eugene architecture firm Cultivate Inc., and by local nonprofit affordable housing developer Square One Villages. Its subsidized funding and communal ownership structure makes it affordable to people making below-average income who otherwise couldn’t afford to live in a desirable neighborhood like C Street’s. And by giving residents partial ownership of the property, they can tap into its appreciation value, meaning they can sell their unit for more than they bought it for when they decide to move out.