I am a Foothills project supporter because I would like to see our town continue to grow and develop and I had heard good things about it. I realized however, that I didn't know too much about the specifics. Where is it? How big is it? How does it fit into the rest of our downtown? What will this bring our town that we couldn't get by just waiting for a private developer? I decided to read up and go visit the site. This is what I learned.
The Foothills plan connects to the existing downtown and is comprised of 107 acres right below B Street. An upper area, level with State Street will include a new plaza. This is connected, through a sweeping set of stairs (described as a vertical park) to lower districts that reach to the river. The north district will be more urban with taller buildings. The 'garden district' will have smaller brownstone buildings. Height restrictions and design standards will open up a view corridor. The plan describes itself as 'middle rise' (as compared to high rise). Maximum heights could include seven-story buildings, but because these buildings will be in the lower parts of the project, they would rise only to two or three stories above State Street.
The design will knit the existing downtown together with the new development through convenient pedestrian walkways and a consistent and attractive look. The plan will combine a variety of housing types, retail, recreational activities, some offices, public art and lots of open spaces. The vision is to create a real and vibrant community.
The project will promote outdoor activities and physical exercise. It will add walking and biking trails including improvements to the Curlicue trail. The plan will build a new trail connecting Foothills to Tryon Cove and Tryon Creek Park. New plazas and many open spaces within the project will allow for kids to play ball, seating for outdoor cafes, and a variety of walkways and connections to the rivers and existing parks. There are many environmentally friendly features including efficient use of heat and water through the waste treatment plant, LEED certified buildings, salmon friendly features and more. And of course, promoting walking and convenient access to services reduces transportation costs and related emissions
The plan will increase access to existing Lake Oswego stores and restaurants. It will also provide a lot of amenities for the people living in the existing Oswego Point complex (which will stay on the site).
The main takeaway from my exploration was that the area is in an incredible location that is currently tremendously underused. In my opinion, this area simply should be used; it is simply too great to waste. It offers beauty, access to the outdoors and to the urban center, and convenience. In addition, by putting new residences here - we will prevent sprawl elsewhere.
According to professionals, leaving the land to eventual private development will waste a great opportunity. The development may not occur, and if it does, it will most certainly lack the amenities and beauty of the plan under discussion. While there are many details to be worked out, this plan looks good. I believe it will provide vitality and good choices for our future.
Lisa Adatto is a resident of Lake Oswego.