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Early jump on improvement in downtown Lake Oswego

by: VERN UYETAKE From left, Scott Sonniksen of Radius Design in Portland and Richard and Trudi Bloom discuss possible paint color schemes for the outside of R. Blooms’ new location on A Avenue in downtown Lake Oswego.

Although Michele Reeves' downtown revitalization program is only halfway through, business and property owners are already springing into action to make some of the recommended improvements. Related projects are now in the planning stages at four locations:

n Stickmen Brewery, on State Street, set to open this spring next to Lake Twin Cinema;

n The historic Rogers building at the northwest corner of State Street and A Avenue;

n The single-level gray building on the east side of State Street at A Avenue; and

n R. Blooms, now moving into a new space at 276 A Ave.

Richard Bloom said moving to a new location presents many challenges for his family-owned floral, gift and accessory shop.

'We've never had a storefront; we've always been a destination. We've always been hidden,' Bloom said. The new R. Bloom's space will be seen by a lot more drivers and pedestrians.

He hopes a flower cart out front will encourage passers-by to pause and take a look. He and his wife, Trudi, decided to remove the film that used to cover the windows so people can better see what's inside. Their next steps involve exterior painting and new signage.

'It's a historic building so it's important for us to maintain the charm and integrity of it,' Bloom said, 'and yet it needs to blend in with the modern landscape around it.'

Nearby, owners of the historic Rogers building at 402 N. State St., where Cinematouch is, are considering possible color schemes to highlight architectural details, said Sidaro Sin, development project manager with the city. They also hope to nix an awning that covers much of the bordering sidewalk.

'It's almost like a baseball cap someone has on that's lowered over their eyes,' Sin said.

Across the road at 355-397 N. State Street, property owners hope to use color to provide some definition to separate businesses within the building.

'The big issue there is trying to break up the long, narrow building; several businesses are in there,' Sin said. Color could punch up the appearance, but a decades-old design review decision has limited the options. 'We're looking into amending that to give some creativity and flexibility.'

The projects could be eligible for façade grants from the city.

But some improvements could require changing the city's development code, said Jane Blackstone, Lake Oswego's economic development manager

'Internally, staff is studying what's doable now and what might require longer-term actions,' Blackstone said. 'If the community supports (downtown revitalization) recommendations and is inclined to make those changes, these are things that may need to be addressed as city council or redevelopment agency board decisions.'

But plenty of downtown buildings don't face any limitations under the existing code.

'There is a lot we can do,' she said. 'It's exciting that Michele's recommendations have resonated with property owners and tenants, and that we're seeing interest in acting on some of those recommendations for façade improvements.'



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