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DRC formally rejects Wizer block proposal

Commission adds details to amended ruling ahead of developer's likley appeal


Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Developer Patrick Kessis proposal for the Wizer Block includes 207 apartments and 36,000 square feet of retail space.Lake Oswego's Development Review Commission formally rejected a proposal for a 290,000-square-foot, mixed-use development on downtown Lake Oswego’s Wizer Block this week, adding detailed amendments in advance of a likely appeal to the City Council in September.

Monday night’s final decision affirmed the DRC's 3-2 vote in July to deny developer Patrick Kessi's request to replace the former home of Wizer’s Oswego Foods with three four-story buildings at the corner of A Avenue and First Street. The development would have included 207 residential units and about 36,000 square feet of retail space.

In July, the commission was divided on whether Kessi’s proposed design reflected downtown Lake Oswego’s “village character,” and also whether the residential/commercial split he proposed was appropriate for the city’s so-called “compact shopping district.”

Monday night's vote mirrored the earlier session: DRC Chair Bob Needham and Commissioners Gregg Creighton and Kelly Melendez voted to approve the amended findings; Vice Chair Brent Ahrend and Commissioner David Poulson voted against the motion.

Prior to the vote, the commission agreed that a detailed explanation of the denial would be useful in any future appeal. “Even in a denial, it's important to reference these things,” Ahrend said.

The commission took a 10-minute break during the session, with each member drafting detailed amendments to their findings.

The amended decision concludes that Kessi and his Evergreen Group LLC did not meet the requirements for requested exceptions because their design “does not accomplish the purpose of the Urban Design Plain in a manner that is equal or superior to a project designed pursuant to that standard,” the commission wrote, adding that the design did not achieve “the Urban Design Plan's purpose of creating a high-density Compact Shopping District clearly designated in the plan for the blocks bounded by State Street, Second Street, B Street and Evergreen Road.”

The report also found that city code prohibits another aspect of the design: first-floor residential use outside a permitted area adjoining Second Street — specifically, a courtyard that would be used only by tenants.

Kessi has said he plans to appeal the decision to the City Council, which will next meet on Sept. 2. Any decision by the council could also be appealed to the state Land Use Board of Appeals.