How it Happened

A History of the Tate

In 2002, Sara Bergsund, Principal of Bergsund-Delaney Architecture and Planning brought an opportunity to Jean Tate that she couldn’t ignore – a Request for Proposals (RFP) from the City of Eugene to develop housing on what was then a City-owned parking lot at 14th & Olive. Jean had collaborated with Sara on some affordable housing projects, and was intrigued with the possibilities, but she worried that a multi-storied building would not be optimal as affordable housing for families, the cohort they had previously served. However, a friend soon suggested to Jean that what downtown Eugene really needed was an attractive mid-rise building with single-level dwelling units for “empty nesters” and younger business and professional people who want to live near their work.

So, in January, 2003, with the help of Bergsund and Delaney Architects, a Property Developer, and John Hyland Construction, Inc., Jean submitted a response to the RFP to the Planning Department, and the Urban Renewal Agency of the City of Eugene. In this proposal, an initial development team with relevant project experience was introduced; planning and design criteria, including “conceptual drawings”, were provided; and a tentative timetable was proposed.  Most important, a list of prospective future owners was prepared, some of whom provided letters expressing their keen interest in the possibility of living in a downtown condominium community.

After reviewing four submissions, the city accepted the “14th & Olive Condominium” proposal to begin a “Due Diligence” study before completing the sale of the building site by the city. In the fullness of time, six formidable and forward-looking women (the “Gang of Six”, all long-time residents and community leaders in Eugene) had identified each other, recognized the need to down-size their dwellings, and confirmed their commitment to downtown living. By mid-2003, they (L – R above:  Sally Weston, Laurel Fisher, Joyce Benjamin, Joyce Owen, Jean Tate, and Deb Larson) had formed the 1375 Olive LLC, and began the complex and mysterious processes of property development:  Negotiating with the city to buy the building site and to confirm the MUPTE agreement, hiring SERA Architects in Portland to prepare construction plans and specifications, finding a general contractor who could build a very high-quality structure for an acceptable price, and paying for required insurance. After some initial setbacks, including over-budget bids leading to several rounds of “Value Engineering” with architects and contractors, the members of the LLC faced their next challenge — finding a bank who would accept the risk of lending millions of construction dollars to an untested group of “amateur developers”!

Meanwhile, the LLC members had begun to identify other people who aspired to live downtown – whether they acknowledged it or not – and who they hoped would become their new neighbors. And, before Bank of America in Portland courageously agreed to provide a construction loan, purchase commitments had been obtained from 18 buyers – affectionately called “Red Dots” because of the stickers that marked their preferred choices on some concept drawings. These dauntless souls included all of the members of the LLC, plus DeeAnn Raile, Hallis, Kenton Kulby and Tim Smith (who coined the slogan “Uptown Living, Downtown Convenience”), Doug Hintzman, Marion Sweeney, Joann and Merrill McKern, and Bergson-Delaney Architects. Eventually, in May, 2005, ground was broken for construction of The Tate Condominium – the name chosen by her five partners to acknowledge Jean’s steadfast leadership. By September, 2006, after about 14 months of construction and eager anticipation by the LLC and the local community, The Tate Condominium was completed.

Marketing of the 30 units remaining after the Red Dots’ purchases was managed by Windermere Real Estate, and by the first quarter of 2007, all the units (more than 60,000 square feet of residential and commercial space, costing more than 17 megabucks to build) had been sold. Without doubt, this was a great relief to the Bank of America, and to the members of the LLC, who had had no idea of the magnitude of the “adventure” they began five years earlier.

Clearly, Sara’s and Jean’s vision of the finest in upscale urban living, and one of our city’s most sought-after home addresses, had been realized!


The Tate Condo Association
1375 Olive St
Eugene, OR 97401

Property Management By:

Bennett Management Inc.
Phone: 541-485-6991