New Mercantile proposal would add 225 apartments in Lake Oswego
CenterCal Properties has created a new preliminary design for its proposed development at the corner of Boones Ferry Road and Kruse Way, and it includes something from the City of Lake Oswego's wish list for the area: high-density housing.
Designs distributed to neighborhood leaders earlier this month show a new redevelopment plan for the Providence Mercantile Center that includes a four-story central building with ground-floor retail space, 225 apartments on the levels above and an internal parking garage in the center of the building.
The design is a marked changed from an earlier CenterCal proposal, which featured a 45,000-square-foot grocery store as the retail "anchor" and no housing.
"We're coming back with a mixed-use village that includes a retail, pedestrian-friendly, ground-floor experience in the CenterCal tradition, with a lot of fountains and plazas and public spaces," CenterCal Development Manager Alec Paddock told The Review this week. "It also includes 225 luxury apartment units, which we think is extremely underserved in the Lake Oswego market."
The latest design was unveiled in advance of a planned community meeting on March 1 for residents of the nearby Waluga, Lake Forest and Lake Grove neighborhoods. The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the atrium of the existing Providence Mercantile Center (4015 Mercantile Drive).
Like its predecessor, the updated design features single-story retail buildings along the Boones Ferry Road side of the property that ring a ground-level parking lot. The north and west sides of the 6.92-acre site would become the new four-story structure, with apartments ranging from studios to one-, two- and three-bedroom units.
The ground floor of the building's parking garage would connect to the surface parking lot in the center of the site; the upper levels of the garage would be for residential parking and served by a separate entrance. The site would have 317 residential parking spaces and 210 for retail, and would include bike parking for both areas.
Paddock said the new design won't have a full-size grocery store but could still incorporate a convenience store and a pharmacy. The other retail spaces would be utilized by restaurants, small shops and service retailers.
Providence currently owns the site and leases space to retail tenants. But the health care company began marketing the property for sale in 2016, telling neighbors at one point that serving as a retail property owner didn't fit with its core business.
CenterCal emerged later that year as the primary contender to redevelop the site, but its initial proposal lacked the high-density housing envisioned for the area in the City's Comprehensive Plan and the Lake Grove Village Center Plan. The sale of the property to CenterCal is still pending, and is contingent on the redevelopment plan moving forward.
CenterCal is best known for developing retail centers such as Bridgeport Village and Cascade Station. Paddock told neighbors at a March 2017 meeting that the company had run through several design iterations of the Mercantile property that included housing, but couldn't find one that would work.
At the time, the issue appeared to be a sticking point. City staff told The Review last year that Lake Oswego is geographically boxed in and has limited capacity to expand in response to expected population increases, so City planners are encouraged to push for high-density housing in locations where the Comprehensive Plan calls for it.
Neighbors had also appeared to be lukewarm about the grocery store concept, arguing the presence of three other grocery stores within two miles of the site would make a new one redundant.
CenterCal heard those concerns, Paddock told The Review this week, and ultimately changed its mind after working with City staff and neighbors during the past year.
"We've heard the planning staff and community's response that they really believe that this site is the last major development opportunity in the area, and they'd really like to see something with a little more density," he said.
Paddock said CenterCal also began to view The Windward project in downtown Lake Oswego as proof that a mixed-use development could succeed. So the company brought on a partner agency that specializes in housing, and worked with City staff to develop the new plan.
"Those things have gotten us comfortable that this really is the highest and best use for the property," Paddock said, "for the community and for us."
Lake Oswego Planning Director Scot Siegel said the new design does appear to address the City's vision for the area and some of the prior concerns from neighbors.
"Looking at it on a high level, it's much more responsive," he said. "When you get down into the details of design, that's where it's still too early to say. But generally, what we've seen is very much in alignment with the years of planning the community has done for the Lake Grove Village Center."
The project is still in the pre-application phase, which means CenterCal is still working with City staff to refine the proposal before officially submitting it for evaluation by the Development Review Commission. The neighborhood meetings are part of that process.
"We're excited to get feedback and see how we can make sure this is the best project that it can be," Paddock said.