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LORA moves forward on North Anchor project

The city of Lake Oswego will try to acquire as many as six private properties in a move to redevelop a one-and-a-half block area to anchor the north end of downtown, according to a plan approved by the urban renewal agency Monday night.

Known as the North Anchor project, the initiative centers on buildings near First Street and B Avenue, where city leaders hope to invest money in a new 60,000-square-foot public library and parking garage with privately developed housing, restaurant and retail opportunities.

A map distributed to the Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency Board, made up of city council members, shows the urban renewal agency might buy the following:

* 500 and 530 First St., both on the northwest corner of the First and B intersection

* 525 and 545 First St. along with 41 B Ave., all northeast of First and B

* 27 B Ave., north of B at its intersection with State Street.

The city could also build on land it already owns southwest of First and B.

But officials don't necessarily need all of those sites for the project, intended to be a public-private partnership, said Jane Blackstone, economic development manager.

'We have options for using a combination of properties,' she said. 'It's a little bit of a puzzle we need to work out as we begin talking to property owners.'

Potential acquisition costs, at this point, are unknown.

Earlier estimates pegged the project's total price tag at roughly $66 million, with the city shouldering between $38 million and $41 million of the cost, and as much as $14 million of that paying for design work and property purchases. Financing would come from urban renewal money, not the city's general fund.

At this point, $3.5 million has been earmarked in the 2011-12 LORA budget for the North Anchor plan.

Officials will also need to work to relocate tenants now in the buildings eyed by the agency. While some of the buildings are vacant, such as the former Lacey's restaurant and the old vet clinic farther up First Street, as many as 17 businesses would be displaced to make way for the project, according to the redevelopment agency.

The board has yet to settle on a final design concept.

Of two preferred options, one straddles First Street with development on the north side of B Avenue, stretching from the alley between First and Second all the way to State Street.

The other also straddles First Street north of B Avenue and keeps the project just east of the alley between First and Second streets. But instead of extending east to State Street it runs south, on the west side of First, all the way to A Avenue.

The board voted unanimously to approve the acquisition plan.

A refined version of a North Anchor project, based on possible property deals, will be brought back to the board by Sept. 30.