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Wizer block: Stack 'em and pack 'em

The following is an open letter to Lake Oswego residents.

Are you ready to define your downtown core as, essentially, “rental apartment?”

Please don’t accept this with your public money for the Wizer Block 137. If you email your thoughts now to the development review commission and city council, you join the growing majority to stop “Portlandization” here. I know it takes your valuable time to email the council, but what you say matters now more than ever.

This 228-apartment/unit complex, compressed into five stories, is an “experimental occupancy risk.” It is my understanding that when asked to produce data on occupancy around town on new complexes, or old, there is little hard core data from the developers. Do we really want to rely on a developer that keeps describing their one successful condo in the Pearl? Further, the economy fluctuates widely. Therefore, so do the rents and clientele. Landlords must fill vacancies, so clientele and standards drop when times are bad, or areas become overbuilt. There are lots of historical examples of deteriorating rental complexes in nice places.

This massive, noncamouflaged, residential rental unit, needs a green space somewhere else outside the core downtown.

More large complexes are postured in our comprehensive plan. If we allow this unit density of apartments and height, more will come. Should it concern us all that the Wizer developers W&K are now using the streetcar-utilizing Foothills attorney Christe White (former Homer Williams partner heading Foothills) for this Wizer project?

This massive rental complex with only around 30,000 retail feet (a changing number) has both employees and apartment visitors that will cut deeply into the 137 public parking spaces. The parking studies are flawed to me with gross understatement of retail employees, resident visitors and owner’s second cars. Sorry, but $6 million public Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency debt dollars looks like a veiled developer subsidy when it’s all said and done. Our city planning redevelopment recommends these projects because it’s their job security. That’s the core here. Didn’t our Mayor Kent Studebaker, whom I support, campaign that urban renewal was expensive long-term debt and not good for LO, and pledge to maintain our current character?

“Lady LORA Money” is seductive to city officials.

The developers advocate they have high-grade materials to appease us. This is not about brick and stone, I say. One can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.

Was the downtown plan and council-approved design code not supposed to be a commercial zone, primarily? Rental units of 30 to 70 were voted on and approved into Chapter 50 code under Design. Remember the many creative visions, a destination point, or even boutique hotel with mixtures of retail/restaurants/office space? Our new mayor and council cannot dispute that these five-story mega apartments, stacked tightly like pancakes over an entire city block, is any resemblance of a village character they pledged to uphold during their election. Where are their values now, I ask? Hold them to their pledges, I say.

I hate to see developers pervert Gene Wizer’s legacy like this, after his years of fabulous philanthropy, best grocery meat department ever and good taste. “Stack ‘em and pack ‘em developers. Gene deserves better.

Email thoughts to planning@ci.oswego.or.us and councildistribution@ci.oswego.or.us.

Tana Haynes, Lake Oswego, is a member of Save Our Village (saveRvillage@aol.com).

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