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Wizer block isn't a done deal


Our current city council could use a major tune-up. Mayor Kent Studebaker and our city council are out of alignment in following Lake Oswego city codes and our East End Redevelopment Plan.

Their recent campaign pledge was to preserve Lake Oswego’s current character and prevent high density. How does a five-story massive apartment complex on Wizer’s Block 137 fit into our city plans, which call for “the village character as a community of small-scale structures that appears and operates like a traditional small town.” New or remodeled structures shall be designed to complement surrounding structures.

Maybe a bit of fairy dust has been sprinkled to make our elected officials believe this project is a good fit. It depends on the goal you are looking for. Revenue seems to be the front runner to what is driving this intrusive and massive complex more than appropriate care of proportions and design. The rush to judgment, or disaster, by our city council (wearing their LORA hats) in voting unanimously (to advance) this enormous proposal was puzzling at best.

Pat Kessi and W&K Development will profit from this apartment project while the citizens will be left to ponder how terribly wrong this mass was to the heart of LO. An approximate $92 million project will pad developers’ pockets with profits in the millions. What about the city’s risk? Who said all the apartments will be occupied? Who said this project isn’t risky? California has wised up and no longer accepts high-density urban renewal funds. Sadly, there are more high-density projects slated for our downtown.

This “Pearlized” Portland high-density pig runs counter to the elements of our community that LO citizens value. There is no other development in downtown LO of comparable density. This high-density project will undo everything we have done right in the last decade to make our town beautiful and charming and will leave a permanent, negative mark to its core long after the developers have left town. The insufficient parking and increased traffic alone will be a nightmare.

Currently, our city officials do not understand that a city’s physical presence evolves over time and forms its own charm, personality and character. We live in a thriving, quaint town where there is a flow of activity and a town square for all of our community to enjoy. Its charm still shines bright with an assortment of well-thought-out renovations and new developments that honored Lake Oswego’s development plan.

The new Wizer development is not just about our downtown community — this is about all of Lake Oswego citizens and visitors who come from near and far. We have a golden opportunity to make this right. Instead the developers have offered up a cold, institutional, corner to corner, flat design that is too tall, too big and too dense and simply too much for our beautiful Lake Oswego.

Our new city council (as LORA) complicated the issue by approving this project without the consensus of the very citizens who elected them. If this project proceeds they, in essence, will be responsible for the biggest blunder in the history to the heart of LO.

Let’s do it right. It’s not too late.

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Lita Schiel Grigg, Lake Oswego, is a founding member of the Save Our Village political action committee.