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Set the bar high for Wizer Block development

To the Design Review Commission,

You cannot stop progress. But you can guide it in the right direction!

When my wife’s family and my family first moved to Lake Oswego, there was one stop sign in Lake Grove, maybe just two stoplights in the city of Lake Oswego, and the first high school in the city had just opened that year.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that my sister and brother-in-law were living in a single detached home on First Avenue, just half a block west of the current City Hall and surrounded by other single homes. Across the street was an abandoned house on what became the Safeway parking lot.

Now look at Lake Oswego today. You can’t stop growth. But what if a businessman with a building that exceeded the 60-foot height limit had organized and spent thousands of dollars on lawyers, placards and rallies to fight the proposed new City Hall, or the new Safeway, or the beautiful Oswego Village Townhomes that have made our city grow?

You can’t stop progress, only delay it. Mark my words: By 2025, there will be at least two new, very tall buildings occupying a whole city block in downtown Lake Oswego. And by 2030, at least two more. Yet none of them will be as tall as Lake View Village.

What standard will these new buildings try to match - the leading-edge, world-class style of the Wizer proposal, or a non-environmentally friendly, typically Plain Jane-painted, sidewalk-to-sidewalk solid concrete block that would still meet building code requirements and which the courts would force you to accept?

There is no higher environmental standard than LEED Platinum; few buildings in the world have achieved it, and none in Lake Oswego. Do you want the low mark of a typical developer, or the highest mark that can be achieved? Block 137 will set the mark that others will have to achieve in the redevelopment of downtown Lake Oswego; wouldn’t you like to have LEED Platinum as the goal for all buildings in in the city?

Members of the Design Review Commission: Be careful what your actions might reap. Remember, this project is setting the goals for the entire Lake Oswego downtown area. It sets an extremely high mark for future developers to match, and to which they will be compared. Grab this opportunity to set the parameters high while you still have the chance, so that our grandchildren can enjoy the beautiful downtown that is just now coming to flower as it becomes our community center.

Please don’t delay the eventual Wizer project. My wife and I can barely wait to move back to our city.

Jim Crowell is a member of the Lake Oswego High School Class of 1956. He lives in Wilsonville, although he says that, hopefully, that’s just temporary.

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