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'Consider that this might just be the wrong project'

The citizen’s voice was heard loud and clear at the voting polls, no light rail — no Foothills project.

We have now been introduced to another high-density project in the heart of our downtown championed by the same people who wanted the light rail and Foothills. It is common knowledge that former Mayor (Judie) Hammerstad and Attorney Christe White are involved in this project. Our new city council took a pledge to preserve Lake Oswego’s current character and prevent high density. It looks as if our current council is lining up to follow in the footsteps of the very predecessors they defeated.

No matter how developer Pat Kessi wants to make you believe this large project is the “new” village character, you have to have a bold imagination. As defined in the East End Redevelopment Plan, village character means a community of small-scale structures.

General comparisons to this 228-apartment complex would be the Crowne Plaza off of Kruse Way with 168 units or Timberline Lodge with 70 units. If you look at current well-done developments in downtown Lake Oswego: 555 Second St. has 36 units, or Oswego Village town homes on 75 percent of Block 136, next to Wizer’s block, has only 39 units.

The recurrent comment supporting this project is, if you don’t build the full 228 apartments the project will not “pencil out.” Developers always say this. Lake View Village, which is two and three stories in height, was the first critical part of the village square. It has no apartments or condominiums and it “penciled out.”

Wizer Block 137 is the final piece to complete Lake Oswego’s town square. The redevelopment plan states the Wizer block is to complement the existing surrounding structures. Please tell me how on earth anyone could ever think of building a four- and five-floor, 228-apartment complex with no green space on this critical piece of property and claim it complements its surroundings.

Lake Oswego citizens are seeing through the developer’s propaganda and artists renditions, which do not accurately depict the coarse lines, blocky mass, stark windows and corner to corner complex.

If you want to see what the development really looks like I urge you to go to city hall to review the plans in detail. This project is high density that brings with it dogs, bikes, traffic and parking issues, along with overcrowding of the amenities that our beautiful town square currently offers. Do we really need more than 200 apartments on this rare piece of land? This development is a high-risk gamble that the city should not take.

Mayor Kent Studebaker and city council members will be strongly evaluated over this decision. The citizens of Lake Oswego want Wizer’s redeveloped, but this is the wrong developer, the wrong architects and the wrong redevelopment for Lake Oswego. Honor the codes and vision made on the original plan for this block. Maybe our council members need to pause and consider that this might just be the wrong project.

Please write to councildistribution@ci.oswego.or.us.

Tom Grigg is a resident of Lake Oswego.

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