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City Council OKs ground-floor office at Lake View Village

Realtor will occupy former home of Frog Pond Toys on State Street

The Lake Oswego City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to amend its current development agreement with Lake View Village and to allow owner Barry Cain an exception to the requirement that ground-floor spaces be limited to commercial retail, hotel or restaurant uses.

Cain requested the exception only for Building C, which is adjacent to State Street. Redevelopment Director Brant Williams said city staff agreed with Cain that being situated along State Street posed significant challenges to retail use, including a narrow sidewalk and lack of parking.

Cain sought permission to lease the vacant space most recently occupied by Frog Pond Toys to Sotheby's Realty, specifically the Deb Tebbs Group. Williams said staff suggested that any exceptions be granted only to that particular retail space.

“We're real excited about the use,” Cain said. “We want it to be an active space, and State Street has some challenges for retail. It’s not quite as easy to get to, not quite as comfortable in some ways.”

Bend-based Tebbs wants to open what would be her seventh office, but her first in the Portland metro area. She says she plans to host regular art events at Lake View Village in cooperation with local wineries.

Councilor Jeff Gudman expressed admiration for the proposal, but he questioned the request because of Cain’s vocal complaints about what he sees as a lack of retail space on the ground floor of the proposed Wizer Block development.

“During recent Wizer deliberations, you were quite vocal in your opposition to some of the changes that were proposed,” Gudman said. “As you just noted, this is not retail, but it is a reflection of adapting to changed conditions.”

“We’ve got retail on four street frontages,” Cain replied. “The Wizer Block proposal has retail on First Street and on A Avenue. It doesn’t on Evergreen or Second. It could have.

“I think State Street is a little bit of a different situation” he added. “More retail is better. I wish we had more retail on the Wizer Block. ... If it gets built, we’ll see who has the right idea.”

Cain said he believes Tebbs’ realty office will be a good fit for Lake View Village’s ground floor.

“I think Deb and Sotheby's fits there,” Cain said “She's going to have more activity there than either of the people there before,” which included a team of interior designers. “She’s going to be there in five, 10 years. We need some stability there.”

Cain said he had experienced difficulty attracting quality commercial retail tenants downtown because there simply wasn’t enough retail in the area already.

The Council amended the request, stipulating that it would only be approved for Sotheby’s or a business successor, and would not signal a permanent change in the commercial space.

“Hopefully, this is helpful for us as we look at spending the rest of our redevelopment funds,” Councilor Joe Buck said. “It’s helpful to us to hear from our largest landlord (there), to hear what will work downtown. It's good for us all to be open to changes as we go forward.”

Contact Saundra Sorenson at 503-636-1281 ext. 107 or ssorenson@lakeoswegoreview.com.


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