Pearl Buck Center Makes Progress on New Home

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Byline: REAL ESTATE By Randi Bjornstad The Register-Guard

Pearl Buck Center Inc., a nonprofit agency dedicated to bettering the lives of people with developmental disabilities, collected enough money in the first six months of its $6.5 million capital campaign to begin renovating its future home.

The organization is waiting for a $1.7 million building permit from the city of Eugene for its new location at 3690 W. First Ave. in west Eugene, Executive Director Ed McDunn confirmed.

"We have $1.2 million from the sale of our other two buildings, and we've raised more than $1.5 million in donations and in-kind contributions, so we've been able to begin some work on the first phase of the new building," McDunn said.

The center purchased the 48,000-square-foot building on 1.8 acres of land in March from Petersen-Arne, a wholesaler of sewing notions and crafts supplies, for $2.7 million, according to Lane County tax records.

Petersen-Arne, in turn, now occupies a location at 4310 W. Fifth Ave., just blocks away from Pearl Buck's existing production center at 4232 W. Fifth Ave. The property was purchased through a limited liability company called Vista Properties, owned by Cynthia Morris and Craig Curtis. They paid $800,000 for the 16.7-acre parcel in 2003, county records show.

The Pearl Buck Center has reached sale agreements for its two previous locations, McDunn said. The preschool building on a 5-acre parcel at 5100 W. Amazon Drive in southeast Eugene has been sold for $500,000 to Deborah and Peter Noble, owners of West Wind Forest Products, with the intention of maintaining the property as open space, he said. Deborah Noble is a member of the Pearl Buck Center's capital campaign committee.

Commercial real estate broker John Brown, who has been involved in all of the Pearl Buck transactions, said the agency's production facility will be sold "to a solid, local company that provides building components." McDunn said the sale price for that property is $750,000.

Bringing all of its operations under one roof - and quadrupling its space in the process - allows Pearl Buck to expand not only its production facility, which employs about 120 people with developmental disabilities, but also its early childhood education and adult life skills programs.

"We have 48,000 square feet in the new building," McDunn said. "We're doing the administrative offices and the production facility first, and we'll be moving those operations in before the end of the year. …