An uncertain future on the Wizer block
Contention and confusion surround proposed redevelopment plan
The proposed redevelopment of the Wizers shopping center has already sparked public interest, outcry and concern especially among the store owners and employees of the blocks other businesses. To them, the future remains unclear.
ZGF Architects and W&K Development have set September 2014 as a prospective dig date, but the plans which call for the construction of multistory, mixed-used buildings with 200-plus housing units are neither finalized nor approved.
In the meantime, no one in the Wizers mall has formally been given notice to vacate. At least, not yet.
Which leaves some, like Glass Butterfly owner Phil Chizum, optimistic.
It may sound like a done deal, Chizum said, but despite what you read in the newspaper, it may, or may not, happen.
With 12 full- or part-time employees, Chizums clothing boutique is the largest shop in the Wizers complex.
According to Chizum, everything from zoning issues to public protest or financing difficulties could sink the development project. And with a six-month lease (and no notice from property owner Gene Wizer), the Glass Butterfly has no reason to continue anything but business as usual.
I havent given up hope yet, and I want my customers to know that, Chizum said.
The Glass Butterfly has been open for business in Lake Oswego for 29 years.
Fred Squire, who owns Squire Antiques, said he operates his business with the same outlook.
Im not a worrier. Never have been. Drives my wife nuts, but I dont worry. I just dont, Squire said.
With two part-time employees, Squire said that if a move does come, hed look for a smaller space in the same area. Until then, hell carry on.
But not everyone on the block shares Chizum and Squires wait and see attitude.
To portrait photographer Derrik Ollar and chiropractor Dr. Scott Abrahamson, relocating isnt a matter of if only when.
It looks like the deal is done, Abrahamson said.
Ollar agreed. I fully expect this to happen, he said.
Ollar, of Ollar Photography, and Abrahamson, of Lake Oswego Chiropractic, are both self-employed professionals who operate modest, successful practices.
With limited overhead costs and relatively smaller space requirements, both say that moving, while difficult, isnt deadly.
Its an enormous expense. But I also knew it was a possibility even going in here, Abrahamson said. Youre always taking a risk, no matter where you are. So, its doable.
Both Ollar and Abrahamson said they knew from the start to not get too comfortable.
(Wizer) has always made it clear that something would happen to the property. Nobody was blind to this, Ollar said.
Ollar has occupied his studio for four years; Abrahamson, 10. Neither owner thinks hell move far.
LO Chiropractic of West Linn isnt really going to work, Abrahamson said.
So while the planned developments design still needs a vote of approval from the Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency and then a public hearing from the Lake Oswego Development Review Commission Ollar said the move-out date for Wizers tenants is more finalized than not.
Its gotten around that, sometime in late spring or early summer ... (Wizer) will want us all to move out, Ollar said.
If that happens, hourly employees like Cris Soltero may be hardest hit.
Soltero, an employee at El Ranchito Mexican Restaurant, said that conflicting rumors made verifying anything impossible.
We hear different versions every single day, Soltero said. Different stories from the customers, the paper, the people at city hall. We dont know who to believe anymore.
Lake Salon hairdresser Mindy Martinez agreed.
Martinez said that the recent coverage and the resulting confusion and contention regarding the proposed sale of the Wizer mall has negatively affected business at the Lake Salon.
Martinez thought the plan was to move too, eventually but to where, she didnt know. She thought shed have at least another year in the Wizers location. Beyond that, she wasnt sure.
According to Martinez, most of the salons clientele thought that the business had already closed down.
Its been slow since the first article ran, Martinez said. Can you write that were still here?
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