Wizer debate yields a balanced proposal that should be approved
Years ago, the citizens and City Council of Lake Oswego sat down together and, after many months of hard work, adopted a vision for the core of Lake Oswego. That vision was described in a code. As a result of that hard work and a very creative development plan, the Lake View Village proposal was presented.
That proposal was opposed by a vocal minority of our citizens. After numerous meetings and hearings, the project became a reality. It added great value to our core. The project was granted 11 code exceptions. One exception allowed the project to slightly exceed the height limitation. A second one allowed the project to exceed the number of stories allowed under the code. These exceptions were granted because we saw a chance to energize the village core, and we grabbed that opportunity.
Across the street from Lake View Village is the Wizer Block, a city block which is tired, warn and architecturally inconsistent with the plans and dreams of the code we adopted. Many of us feel that it detracts from the image of our revitalized village. Fortunately, we now have the opportunity to finish the job which was started with Lake View Village.
The owner of the Wizer Block would like to sell, and his leases are coming to an end. We have a new, creative developer who believes in the potential of our village, and who is willing to invest in that future by redeveloping the entire block. With low interest rates and our community still struggling from the recession, this is a unique opportunity to solve a problem.The plans presented by this developer are entirely consistent with our code and our image of the village. It also is entirely consistent with the Lake View Village project. Finally, the project can be approved without asking for any material variance from our code.
We had a very vocal minority who opposed the Lake View Village project. We have a similar vocal minority who is opposing this project. In both cases, stunning projects were proposed to replace structures which were simply worn out. The Lake View Village project made our core village a destination for living and shopping. It is undisputed that it created great new economic vitality for our village. The proposed new Wizer Block will accomplish the same objective as Lake View Village. In addition, it will provide a natural transition from the commercial to the residential. I wholeheartedly support it and feel lucky that this opportunity has come to us.
In Lake Oswego, we have a long tradition of listening to the vocal minority. In essence, they have served as our conscience and they have added perspective. In the case of the Wizer Block, the vocal minority reminded us that sometimes we can have too much of a good thing. As a result of their comments, the Wizer Block project has been brought back to a scale that truly fits our village. Thanks to their efforts, a proper balance has now been reached.
The process of vetting the Wizer Block project has now gone on for over a year. We are fortunate that the developer has stuck with us and not abandoned the project. Lets approve it now and begin a next new positive chapter in Lake Oswego.
Mark Eves is a resident of Lake Oswego.