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Curtains remain open on citys development deal for theater renovation

The renovation of Lake Twin Cinema will take awhile longer than originally planned.

The Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency board, made up of the city council, has granted an eight-month extension to the deadline for improvements at Lake Twin Cinema, the historical theater building bordering Lakewood Bay and Sundeleaf Plaza Park in downtown Lake Oswego.

The city’s urban renewal agency signed a development agreement with Oswego Investors, which owns the building, in December 2010. The idea was to work together to improve the theater’s façade — the building, designed by renowned architect Richard Sundeleaf, is considered the southern anchor of the city’s newest park, Sundeleaf Plaza — while helping provide for the renovation of the theater facilities.

The city agreed to funnel more than $350,000 toward the renovation and paid $450,000 for a new outdoor seating terrace, a space to be shared with the general public when a café — planned as part of the theater project but not yet built — is closed.

The theater renovation was supposed to wrap up by Aug. 11. Many planned exterior improvements were finished late last year, but the remainder of the project hasn’t been completed.

Drew Prell of Oswego Investors attributed the delay to a feeble real estate market. He told the council he has been trying to sell other property he owns to obtain the money he needs for this project.

“The commercial business has been a tough business over the last three to five years, to say the least,” Prell said. Adding to the trouble was the vacancy of the Lake House restaurant, which closed as the winter season approached late last year. It shared the building with the cinema.

“Financing probably would have been available on that property if it hadn’t been for the vacancy on the Lake House restaurant site,” he said. “Vacant buildings are pretty hard to finance.”

But with the Stickmen Brewery & Skewery now open in that space, he has high hopes for the location’s future success. The lakeside restaurant is officially open for food and drinks, although the microbrewery isn’t yet operating.

“I expect big things out of that tenant; I think they’re going to be great,” Prell said. “Let’s just hope the beer is good.”

The city could have demanded up to $200,000 in reimbursement if the deadline passed without an extension.

The new deadline for Oswego Investors to finish the project is April 15.

“I’m sympathetic to your cause because I own a number of commercial pieces of property,” Councilor Mike Kehoe told Prell. “It’s definitely been a tough three or four years.”

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