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Design a project that fits Wizer block and adds to character of LO

We have an emergency, LO. If the proposed development for the Wizer Block 137 gets approved and built, it will forever change the downtown in a very bad way.Cain

Do you know how if you want to meet friends or family at a restaurant or at Millennium Plaza Park, you can count on finding parking close by so no one has to walk three or four blocks in the rain? That is because it was planned that way; it was no accident. My company, Gramor Development, and the city staff at that time knew that parking was going to be at a premium there, especially since the city was building Millennium Plaza Park with no parking of its own. So we planned for the secondary use at Lake View Village to be office. That way, when the office tenants left after 5 p.m., and on weekends, we would have double the parking available for the retail, restaurants and park visitors.

The proposed Wizer Block 137 development has a small amount of retail but for the most part is a 230-unit apartment complex. They are only providing parking at a ratio of 1.1 spaces per unit. Fifty-five percent of the units are two- and three-bedroom units, so obviously they won’t have enough parking.by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Customers dine outside at Zeppo, a restaurant in Gramor Developments Lake View Village, which would sit near a new proposed development on the Wizer block in downtown Lake Oswego.

When restaurants and retail tenants are busiest, the apartment residents and their guests will be there in the complex, and they will be taking the parking on the streets and in the Lake View Village garage that you have been able to depend on.

In addition, the city’s code requires that the buildings be small-scale and that they appear like a traditional small town. When we built Lake View Village we took that to mean that the buildings should look like they were built over time, unlike a shopping center. Lake View Village has six unique buildings that average 15,000 square feet (entire development is about 90,000 square feet). The proposed project has three buildings that average 110,000 square feet and are the length of football fields (entire project about 330,000 square feet), half again longer than any Portland downtown city block.

The buildings are monolithic structures that will completely change the feel downtown LO has now.

The process we went through to develop Lake View Village and A Street Station (where Tucci’s is) and the Oswego Village Townhomes was long. But it was a collaborative process between us, the city and a solid group of very interested neighbors. Because of that, when we went through the city’s design review public hearing process, there was no one there to speak in objection of it.

That contrasts sharply with the public hearing a week ago for Block 137. There were four hours of public opposition at five minutes per speaker.

Gramor has received all the credit for Lake View Village, but there were a couple of people at the city, namely Bob Galante, redevelopment director at the time, and Doug Schmitz, then city manager, and a number of very active neighbors, who should share the credit.

Personally, I was very lucky to have been involved. The pride I feel when I see you and your families enjoy the area and when I see visitors take pictures of what we collaboratively created is worth more than any amount I could ever make from it.

No one should be concerned that if this development doesn’t go forward something worse will happen, or maybe nothing. The economy is good now, and it’s the perfect time for a developer to repeat the experience we had. Why not design a development that fits the site and adds to the character and quality of Lake Oswego?

Barry Cain is president of Gramor Development Inc.

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