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Citys redevelopment agency updates its relocation policy

The Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency last week approved an updated relocation policy that will likely come into play as the city prepares to acquire property for the North Anchor project.

It's unclear how many businesses might be affected, but federal and state laws govern relocation associated with public property acquisition, requiring agencies like LORA to provide financial assistance to those their projects displace.

The North Anchor project is a priority in Lake Oswego's long-term redevelopment efforts in the urban renewal area downtown. Officials hope the project will serve as an anchor opposite Lake View Village to the south, another LORA initiative.

'Just like how a shopping mall has a Macy's at one end and a Nordstrom at the other, there will be another reason for people to travel along First Street,' said Jane Blackstone, the city's economic development manager, during a recent interview.

Officials are still figuring out which properties they might be able to buy for the overall project site, but the redevelopment agency is focused on scenarios that include a public library and parking facility along with private retail development at First Street and B Avenue.

The city recently secured an option to buy the vacant building at 500 First St., formerly Lacey's bar. Other properties under consideration are at 525, 530 and 545 First St., and at 27 and 41 B Ave. The city could also build on land it already owns southwest of First and B.

Many of the buildings eyed for the project have tenants, including offices and businesses like Upper Crust Bread Co. and Gourmet Productions.

Under Lake Oswego's relocation policy, updated for the first time last week since 1989, how much displaced tenants would be paid depends on a range of factors.

Business owners who qualify for relocation assistance can choose to receive compensation for actual moving costs, including installation of moved equipment and storage, lost inventory, searching for a new location and reestablishment expenses, or they can receive fixed payments of up to $20,000, an amount depending on average annual net earnings.

The city's new policy adds a section to define who is not eligible for relocation help. It also adds language to show the agency has a 'desire to interview and assist tenants with relocation planning.'

Depending on the final plan, the North Anchor project could cost anywhere from $36.9 million to $71.8 million, not counting property acquisition. The public might be asked to share in the costs through a bond measure if a library is part of the project.