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North Anchor project moves ahead, but without library

The city of Lake Oswego will push ahead with plans to redevelop properties at First Street and B Avenue but has backed off the idea of building a new, bigger public library there.

Acting as the Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency Board, city council members on Tuesday directed staff members to draft a request seeking ideas from potential real estate developers of the site.

Officials have long considered the site a good place to build a new library as part of a mixed-use development that would likely also include housing. But voters in November rejected a $14 million bond measure that would have helped pay for part of the project.

As a result, what is known as the North Anchor project — aiming to provide a counterbalance to Lake View Village, a previous redevelopment effort — will now move ahead without the library as a component.

Council President Mike Kehoe said he didn’t think it would be appropriate to “stick a library in there” when the bond measure failed. “I would be OK with some public parking there,” he said.

He also mentioned concerns with waiting too long after assembling the site. The city now owns several properties and has rent-paying tenants, who face growing uncertainty without a plan moving forward. Losing tenants could create “truly a blighted situation there,” Kehoe said.

The city’s urban renewal agency has acquired properties at 500 First St., 525 First St. and 39-41 B Ave. for $5.43 million. In addition, officials are now in the due diligence phase of potentially buying properties at 27 B Ave. and 504 N. State St.by: VERN UYETAKE - This building is among several acquired by the city of Lake Oswegos urban renewal agency around First Street and B Avenue.

In all, that could give a firm 46,800 square feet to redevelop, and additional space could be gained if the city vacated the public alley between State and First streets.

Councilor Donna Jordan agreed with Kehoe that the city should press ahead.

“We have aggregated the property, which is one of the biggest hurdles for any developer to put together a major project. I think we have a chance there to actually create something that we want to have happen in Lake Oswego and at the same time have a little bit of control over what goes there so the neighbors around the area can also have more input and it isn’t piecemeal.”

Jane Blackstone, the city’s economic development manager, said the overall mix of land uses there could include offices, commercial space or housing.

“Most likely we would see a mixed-use project with housing as a key component,” she said. Whether it’s housing tailored for older folks or apartments for younger people, market-rate rentals are “very marketable” and in short supply, she noted. Downtown standards call for active ground-floor uses, particularly along B Avenue, she added.

“I think we need to pose what our objectives are and seek that input from a developer partner,” Blackstone said.

Councilor Jeff Gudman said officials should keep in mind that, although the library measure failed, many citizens still hope to replace the library, which has outgrown its existing location on Fourth Street.

The library has been at capacity in its 27,000-square-foot building since the 1980s, according to the city. Initial plans for the North Anchor project called for a new 60,000-square-foot library.

Some people have proposed moving the facility elsewhere. Councilor Jon Gustafson said he hopes the proposed North Anchor properties aren’t “the last opportunity to have a (new) library downtown.”

“I think, should the time come that the community is ready to pass a bond measure in support of the library, we’d have the option to find other land,” Gustafson said. “Just because we’re moving forward with the North Anchor doesn’t mean we’re permanently precluding the library from downtown.”



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