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More details emerge on Wizer block proposal

Developers hope a new housing and retail project with high-end apartments will draw young families, downsizing couples and “recently single, mature” individuals to live in downtown Lake Oswego.

During a presentation to the city’s redevelopment agency last week, David Staczek of ZGF Architects said those population groups are among likely renters of 242 luxury apartments proposed for Block 137, also known as the Wizer block. by: SUBMITTED - This illustration, part of a presentation by W&K Development and ZGF Architecture, shows a broad concept of the scale of a new development that could replace the Wizer block in downtown Lake Oswego.The idea is to transform the commercial property long owned by Gene Wizer into housing over and beside retail spaces, with a courtyard and public walkway at street level and two levels of parking underneath.

Staczek said the plan is about “building community ... through a unique, walkable town center experience that really celebrates the Lake Oswego lakeside lifestyle.”

“It’s about luxury, it’s about sophistication and it’s about timelessness,” he said. “We really want to build something that’s timeless here.”

Units would range in size and rental rates, but the blended average, according to the presentation, would likely be about 930 square feet of space. Monthly rents might range from $1,500 to $2,600 — or maybe higher for penthouses. The units would likely house people earning salaries of $48,000 to upward of $100,000 annually.

The development would aim for high environmental and energy efficiency standards, which typically require places for electric vehicles to charge, stalls for bicycle parking and preferred parking spots for carpools or alternative vehicles.

Staczek said three market studies support the concept.

by: SUBMITTED - W&K Development and ZGF Architecture are working on a mixed retail and residential development plan for the Wizer block in downtown Lake Oswego that includes a courtyard and a public path cutting through.“It is kind of a missing keystone to the east end development,” he said.

Long eyed by the city for redevelopment, the Wizer block is now sandwiched between Millennium Plaza Park, Lake View Village, which houses the Italian restaurant Tucci and other businesses, and a few dozen three-level townhomes.

As reported in the Review last week, developers plan to ask the city’s urban renewal agency for assistance with the project.

So far, public questions from Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency board members, the same lineup as the city council, have focused on building height and mass in proportion to surrounding properties, and on the number of parking spaces that would be provided for apartment residents and area shoppers.

Although the project would span the entire city block between First and Second streets, Evergreen Road and A Avenue, it wouldn’t look as massive as that sounds, said Patrick Kessi of W&K Development. It would be taller than some surrounding properties but would be broken up into smaller buildings and constructed in the “village style,” incorporating elements of the English tudor, arts and crafts and Oregon rustic styles, and it would be within the city’s 60-foot height limit downtown, although it would need an exception to have five stories.

The final design would also be subject to consideration by the city’s design review commission.

Plans are still being worked out, Kessi said, but each apartment would likely have an average 1.5 parking spaces — which is more than city code requires.

He previously said his firm had reached an agreement with Wizer late last year to buy the property if all goes according to plan. Developers are hoping the urban renewal agency will essentially cover or waive the city’s usual fees associated with new developments along with fees for permits and contribute $750,000 to the project. In all, that amounts to an estimated $5 million public investment.

Using money generated from growth in the district’s property tax revenues, the Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency has funded public amenities such as Millennium Plaza Park and facilitated private investment in projects like Lake View Village. In some cases the agency directly funds improvements to infrastructure like parks, while in other cases it helps facilitate projects, such as acquiring properties to sell for a large private development.

The idea is to stimulate additional development and economic activity, expanding the city’s tax base.

In the case of the Block 137 plans, developers believe the project could boost property tax revenues there from $50,000 annually today to more than $680,000 each year. It could also funnel an estimated $193,000 in construction excise tax money to the Lake Oswego School District.by: VERN UYETAKE - The Wizer block could soon transform into a mixed-used development containing some smaller retail spaces for independent businesses and high-end apartments between First and Second streets, Evergreen Road and A Avenue.

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