Use the WEB instead of building North Anchor
As a resident of downtown Lake Oswego and a taxpayer, I am profoundly disappointed in the direction and decisions being made by the city council.
First, as was well stated by Barbara Eden in last week's paper, buy the West End Building and put the library in it. The city already paid a ridiculous amount of money for the building and continued to pay a ridiculous amount of money in interest while building no equity. Let's cut our losses and save a fortune on new construction by moving the library to a facility that can accommodate three times the square footage, provide for meeting rooms for public use, and increase the parking options by a huge margin. Remodeling costs are much less than new construction and land acquisition. I am assuming, since the city has the property, that the entire property is currently exempt from property taxes.
The current 'North Anchor Project' anticipates building a four-story parking garage on the site of the current Lacey property. Last year, Barry Cain, the owner of the property, met with the local residents of First Addition and presented a plan to renovate the Lacey property and develop a restaurant, improve the parking area and alley access, enhance the entire corner and it was met with enthusiasm by all that attended. He asked for our support, as he would have to have city approval to move forward. Apparently that desire was replaced by a financial offer from the city.
With the lease in place now, at another ridiculous monthly payment for a vacant building in serious need of renovation, the city will potentially lose another piece of prime business property that would have continued to generate property taxes which are needed for our schools, among other things. Purchasing that property and another six businesses and their property makes absolutely no business sense. At a time when jobs are in short supply, eliminating businesses eliminates jobs and building a parking garage takes potential business and the jobs that go with it, away.
From what I understand, the city does not have the funding in place to build a new library without a bond issue, and in this market, that could be a serious challenge. Renovating the West End Building would cost a lot less and, the Fourth Street building could either be converted to another city building or sold, with the proceeds going toward the renovation expenses, and, if sold, putting it back on the tax roles. Taking taxable prime business property on First Street off of the tax rolls, particularly in this economy, makes no sense either.
Many of us that live in the core area enjoy the ability to deal with local businesses, eat at local restaurants, enjoy the downtown atmosphere and have no desire to have more city buildings and parking structures negate the neighborhood feeling that many people move to Lake Oswego for. The city should stick with the Foothills project and enhance the area east of State Street while retaining property tax revenue, and leave downtown Lake Oswego alone.
Kelly Atwood is a Lake Oswego resident and owns
a business in downtown Lake Oswego.