From the Wizer Block and West End Building to Sensitive Lands and the Street of Dreams, here's what grabbed our attention this year

CLIFFORD PAGIUO/FOR THE REVIEW - When it is completed, the mixed-use development on the Wizer Block in downtown Lake Oswego will include 200 apartments and about 40,000 square feet of commercial space.WIZERGene Wizer was a quiet, soft-spoken man who never sought public recognition for the impact he had on the lives of Lake Oswegans. And yet it was a rare week in 2015 when Wizer’s name did not appear in the pages of The Review.

Wizer’s death on Dec. 14 from a form of cancer called multiple myeloma prompted an outpouring of memories from a community that recalled with fondness his local grocery stores, his devotion to Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Parish and his philanthropic work with the Lake Oswego Rotary Club, Lakewood Center for the Arts and other organizations.

It also prompted a collective sigh of gratitude that Wizer had lived long enough to attend the groundbreaking ceremonies for a mixed-use development now under construction on the downtown block that bears his name — a project that kept him in the news throughout the year.

Certainly, other stories had readers’ attention in 2015. Some came to fascinating conclusions: The West End Building has a new owner after years of wrangling, and the City Council has a new member after the unexpected resignation of Karen Bowerman. Others are likely to keep our attention for months to come as residents deal with deferred maintenance at their schools and changes that affect the supermarkets where they buy their groceries.

But nothing had as much of an impact on the community in 2015 as the Wizer Block, which sits atop our list of the Top 10 stories of the year.

1. Older and Wizer

KESSIIn 2014, protesters took to the streets in what became a bitter and divisive debate over the future of downtown Lake Oswego. In 2015, they took to the halls of justice in a legal battle that went all the way to the state Supreme Court.

Opponents of the 290,000-square-foot Wizer Block project argued that it was too big and too dense, and that it did not include the right mix of homes and shops for what was always meant to be the city’s retail shopping core. The city’s Development Review Commission agreed, saying the proposed 200 apartments and about 40,000 square feet of commercial space did not reflect downtown’s “village character.”

But in late 2014, the City Council disagreed, setting off a year of appeals by Save Our Village, the Evergreen Neighborhood Association and LO 138 LLC, which represented Lake View Village.

In March, the state Land Use Board of Appeals upheld the council’s decision to approve the project. And in August, the state Court of Appeals affirmed LUBA without even issuing an opinion, rejecting opponents’ arguments out of hand and indicating that the judges felt the case had no precedential value.

Undeterred, Save Our Village then petitioned the state Supreme Court for review. But in early November, that appeal also was rejected with a simple one-sentence statement: “The court has considered the petition for review,” the justices said, “and orders that it be denied.”

That decision “surprised and disappointed” attorney Greg Hathaway, who represented Save Our Village throughout the legal challenge.

“Surprised because we believed we had presented a very strong legal case justifying Supreme Court review to preserve the village character of downtown Lake Oswego,” he said, “and disappointed because Save our Village and other organizations and many citizens of Lake Oswego remain concerned that the Wizer development is too large in scale and will not preserve the village character of the downtown.”

But the decision thrilled Gene Wizer and developer Patrick Kessi, who had been so confidant of the legal challenge’s resolution that they signed closing documents with the city and held a groundbreaking ceremony on the Wizer Block in October — an event that Wizer himself was able to attend.

“It’s good to have it over,” Kessi told The Review after the decision was announced. “We’re excited now that we can keep going forward and produce a project that Lake Oswego is proud of.”

Crews broke ground Oct. 22 on the mixed-use development at the corner of First Street and A Avenue. Final demolition permits were issued days later, and workers have been tearing down the 1950s-era shopping center ever since.

Excavation of the site for underground parking was nearly complete by the end of the year, setting the stage for construction of a project that is now expected to open in Fall 2017.

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Yakima Products CEO Ryan Martin and about 100 of his employees moved into a completely renovated West End Building in December.

2. Untangling the WEB

After two failed bids to sell the West End Building in 2014, Lake Oswego’s City Council asked the commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield to find a new buyer in 2015 and put an end to the controversy surrounding what was once intended to be a community center-of-sorts on Kruse Way.

By early April, the city had 11 unsealed bids on the table — but the controversy was far from over.

“The purchase of the WEB (for $20 million in 2006) may have been the mistake of the decade,” City Councilor Joe Buck said as city staff worked to narrow the offers, “but the sale of the property will be the blunder of generations.”

Many community members agreed with him, launching a petition drive to stop the sale — or at least to encourage a “thoughtful pause” — because of what they perceived as a lack of planning for what would happen to the meeting space and Parks & Recreation Department programs housed in the 89,000-square-foot building. Many also objected to city plans for an expansion of police and emergency dispatch facilities downtown, saying the WEB was a cheaper and more centrally located option.

In fact, community members had repeatedly said — in more than 20 studies, reports and public votes on the property since its purchase — that they wanted the city to hold onto the WEB. But those same studies and votes also revealed that there was no consensus about how to pay for it or what to do with it, and that a bond measure to provide financing was unlikely to pass.

Given all of that, councilors opted to move forward with the sale in 2014. And at an “informal discussion” in April, they voted 5-2 to stay the course.

To the majority of the council, Mayor Kent Studebaker said at the time, selling the WEB simply made good financial sense. The city would no longer be responsible for about $1.5 million annually in loan payments, maintenance and operations costs; selling the WEB would return the property to the tax rolls, generating additional revenue for the city; and anything the city received beyond the $16.8 million it still owed on the WEB could be used to fund other city projects.

In July, the council’s persistence paid off. Beaverton-based Yakima Products Inc. bought the WEB for $20.1 million.

The 35-year-old company, which makes roof racks, bike racks, cargo boxes and bags and multi-sport trailers, closed on the deal in August. And by Dec. 1, the first 100 Yakima employees had moved into new, completely redesigned corporate headquarters.

“We are thrilled to be making the West End Building Yakima’s new home,” CEO Ryan Martin said. “It’s the perfect location for our growing business.”

Yakima said it plans to occupy 65,000 square feet of the WEB, potentially leasing the additional space until it’s needed to accommodate growth. Company officials said they would also lease back office space to the city for the Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership until that project is completed. And the city worked out a long-term deal with the Lake Oswego School District to move the Parks & Rec Department into new digs at the former Palisades Elementary School on Greentree Road.

The Parks & Rec move gives the department enough space for meetings, a preschool, youth and adult classes, the McKenzie teen lounge and a multipurpose room. One major gain: a full-court gym and an adjoining stage.

And as for Yakima?

“We just had our first all-employee lunch,” Martin said in December as he led a tour of the company’s new home, where dull beige walls and claustrophobic spaces have been replaced with reclaimed wood, corrugated metal and other materials designed to give the space a raw, natural and more industrial feel.

At year’s end, Martin was awaiting city approval to repaint exterior walls. But in the meantime, he said, “the building is really impressive and we’re very excited. I foresee this being our home for a long, long time.”

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE  - Lake Oswego School Distgrict officials are considering placing a bond measure on the November ballot to address more than $98 million in seismic upgrades and deferred maintenance at its 17 buildings, including the pool facility.

3. The bill comes due

Like many school districts and public agencies throughout the state, the Lake Oswego School District deferred maintenance on its 17 buildings during the Great Recession to focus funding on personnel and students. In October, a Facility Condition Assessment report revealed the result: at least $98 million in repairs and seismic upgrades are needed throughout the district, ranging from leaking roofs and outdated mechanical and electrical equipment to cracked and unbraced walls.

The cost estimate, which includes $47 million in seismic improvements, does not include an additional 30 to 35 percent in soft costs, such as staffing, design and permits.

“There is nothing more expensive,” said Deb France, whose architectural firm helped create the assessment, “than doing nothing.”

The question now facing the district: how to pay for those repairs?

“We are not planning a bond yet; we’re developing a long-range plan and a vision for teaching and learning,” said Randy Miller, the district’s executive director of project management, who joined the LOSD administrative team in 2015. “But to go there, you have to understand your facilities.”

That’s where the facility assessment comes in. District staff and a consulting team of architects and engineers visited all 17 district buildings in July and August and then used a mathematical formula to create a ranking that includes the cost to repair or replace each of the facilities. Lake Oswego High and Lakeridge High were found to be in the best condition; Oak Creek Elementary and Lakeridge Junior High are in the worst shape, followed by the district’s swimming pool and its bus barn.

The report is a required part of the district’s 25-year Long Range Facilities Plan, which will help the Lake Oswego School Board decide whether to place a bond measure on the November ballot and determine which projects should be included on it.

The district’s Long Range Facilities Planning Committee is tasked with developing the facilities plan and an accompanying vision for teaching and learning. The 33-person committee, which first met in September, includes principals, parents, classified staff, sustainability experts, city employees, facilities experts, students and teachers.

In November, the committee hosted community meetings to gauge public sentiment; a final proposal is expected to be presented to the school board on Jan. 25. After the plan is done, the next step will be to prioritize projects that could go on the proposed bond measure.

“This,” said school board member Bob Barman, “is probably the most significant, important thing I will do on this board.”

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Lake Oswego High head basketball coach Mark Shoff sits alone on the bench following a state torunament loss in 2013. Shoff was removed from his coaching position in January and retired from the district in April.

4. Difficult lessons

When Lake Oswego High administrators learned in October that a majority of their varsity football players had attended parties where alcohol or drugs were used, they suspended the offenders and forfeited a game against Sherwood High.

With media attention swirling around them, LOHS Coach Steve Coury and Principal Cindy Schubert held a news conference on the front steps of the school and then sat down with Pamplin Media Group’s Kerry Eggers to talk about what they’d learned.

“We want to help students make better choices,” Schubert told Eggers. “We’re always telling kids, ‘Stand up and be a leader,’ but do we help them become a leader? We’re looking at ways that we don’t let this die and move on without trying to make things better.”

Indeed, “make things better” was a common theme in what was a difficult year for athletic departments in the Lake Oswego School District. Among the most notable incidents:

NORDLUM-- A 14-year-old Lakeridge High student and her parents filed a federal lawsuit against the district, contending that incoming Pacer Dance Team members were pelted with water pistols, covered with syrup and feathers and told to wrestle in front of intoxicated students, coaxed to step deeper and deeper into the Willamette River late at night and forced to ride unbuckled on the floor of cars during a team bonding event in August 2014.

Details of the alleged hazing were included in a report by The Hungerford Law Firm, which conducted an independent investigation at the request of Superintendent Heather Beck. The lawsuit and the Hungerford report both claim that the girl, who subsequently left the dance team, was harassed and bullied for having come forward, not only by other students but also by head coach Kayla Nordlum.

Nordlum was named as a defendant in the lawsuit, as were assistant coach Ashley Nordlum, a volunteer team manager and several school and district administrators. Depositions were taken throughout the fall, but no trial date has been set.

Kayla Nordlum was not asked to return to the team in the fall; in her place, University of Oregon graduate Michelle Skidmore was named to lead the Pacer Dancers. Lakeridge Athletic Director Ian Lamont resigned effective June 30; he was replaced by Ian O’Brien, who had served as athletic director of the Warrenton-Hammond School District.

-- In January, Mark Shoff was removed from his role as head coach of the Lake Oswego High boys basketball team following an alleged physical altercation with a player during the Les Schwab Invitational Tournament. A video reportedly sent to the district by a parent appeared to show Shoff placing his hands on a player before turning to talk to his team during a time out. Shoff, who had helmed the varsity program for nearly 20 years, retired from the district in April.

-- Lakeridge softball coach Mike McCormack was suspended and put on administrative leave for two weeks in April after he offered team members an energy drink. Parents of team members said McCormack insisted that players drink Isagenix e+; others said he only offered the drink and didn’t push it on anyone. At year’s end, his future role with the team was unclear.

And then in October came word of the forfeited football game. None of the Laker players were accused of imbibing at the parties. There were no citations issued or any police actions. But the players’ behavior was still a violation of the “code of conduct” pledge all district athletes are required to sign, and that disappointed Coury.

“I feel like I’m swimming upstream, and the tide is fast,” he said. “I keep hearing, ‘That’s just the way it is nowadays. Those kinds of things go on.’”

For her part, Beck took a series of steps in 2015 to make sure “those kinds of things” do not continue in the district. She ordered a review of all coaches and athletic programs, and brought in a company called Coaching Peace Consulting to involve students, parents, coaches and community members in a district-wide effort to create a safe environment in school and at school activities. Indeed, she used each of the athletic department incidents as a teaching and learning opportunity to foster better behavior, mutual respect and inclusivity.

“What I want to see is that when kids have struggles, that we respond in an appropriate way and we see it as a teachable moment,” Beck said, “that we help them make better choices in the future, and that we become the adult role models and set the examples that we want for our students.”

At year’s end, the district’s efforts left Coury hopeful.

“It’s going to have a positive effect before we’re done,” the coach said. “I really believe that.”

5. A sudden departure

BOWERMANIt came at the end of a long and otherwise uneventful City Council meeting in July, and it caught everyone by surprise: In a short speech that stunned her fellow councilors, a tearful Karen Bowerman announced that she would resign from the council ahead of its August recess.

Bowerman cited concerns about the direction of the city, saying “village character is not reflected in our decision-making processes and we are not addressing all the issues, the real issues, of quality of life.”

But she said her reasons for resigning were more personal than philosophical.

“As an individual, health drives the decision that my family has reached, and that decision affects where we shall live,” she said. “Accordingly, I will be submitting my resignation from council.”

Bowerman did not publicly elaborate then or in the weeks before or after she officially left office on Aug. 31. Elected in 2012 to serve through Dec. 31, 2016, she became the first councilor to resign from office since Mike Kehoe departed for California in August 2013 and the fifth councilor to leave Lake Oswego altogether, either during or at the end of their current term.

She and her family have moved from the city, although she said in July that her ties to Lake Oswego are “profound and shall continue.”

COLLINSBowerman’s sudden departure ignited a fast and furious process to find a replacement. Within just a few weeks, an impressive list of 13 candidates had filed applications, including planning commissioners, budget committee members and others with a long list of public and private involvement.

Councilors narrowed that list to five finalists: Randy Arthur, the current Planning Commission chairman; Dave Beckett, who serves on the city’s Citizens Budget Committee; Ed Brockman, who serves on the Planning Commission and ran for council in the 2014 election; Charles Collins, chairman of the Citizens Budget Committee; and John LaMotte, the current Planning Commission vice chairman.

After almost two hours of interviews with the finalists and two rounds of voting on Sept. 8, councilors chose Collins to fill Bowerman’s vacated seat and fill out the remainder of her term. He has already indicated he will seek re-election to a full term on the council in 2016.

“I’m already running right now,” Collins told the council, and he didn’t waste any time in making an impact.

In December, Collins cast the deciding vote to extend the city’s ban on marijuana dispensaries, breaking a 3-3 council deadlock and sending the issue to voters in November 2016.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - City officials adopted an overhaul of Lake Oswego's Sensitive Lands proposal in 2015. Still to come: changes to the citys Tree Code and its stormwater management manual.

6. ‘Sensitive’ subjects

City officials vowed in January to balance community aesthetics and environmental quality with residents’ oft-stated desire for less-stringent regulations in 2015 by overhauling a contentious Sensitive Lands program that many insisted was inequitably applied.

They accomplished that goal by year’s end, with a new Healthy Ecosystems chapter of the Comprehensive Plan, revisions to the Community Development Code and an updated Sensitive Lands map that better aligns with state and Metro regulations governing development near streams, wetlands and tree groves that provide wildlife habitat and water quality benefits.

But getting there wasn’t easy.

The Healthy Ecosystems proposal seemed poised for City Council approval in May, after staff spent more than a year drafting a less-punitive, more incentive-based approach to resource protection. Some of the changes would have allowed the city to rebate a portion of property taxes it would normally receive from property owners, as long as the owners submitted riparian management or wildlife conservation plans. But Metro planners criticized the proposed overhaul, calling it “problematic.”

Specifically, Metro said the city’s budget did not include sufficient funds for habitat enhancement on public and private lands, and the agency claimed that stream buffers as mapped were insufficient for water quality requirements. The concerns were echoed in letters from the state Department of Environmental Quality, the Department of Land Conservation and Development and the Department of Fish and Wildlife, all dated May 11.

In response, the council directed Building and Planning Services Director Scot Siegel and his staff to provide better buffers and to update Sensitive Lands maps to include streams that were currently missing from the survey. They did so, returning in July with a proposal that applied more Metro-friendly buffers while still seeking to keep some of the incentive-based pieces of the program.

Siegel also addressed the council’s concerns about overregulation, saying more private properties would actually be removed from the revised proposal than added.

After hours of public comment and two lengthy hearings in September, the Planning Commission signed off on the new Natural Resources Program on Oct. 12. On Dec. 15, the City Council did the same, crossing off one of the councilors’ major goals for 2015.


-- Work continues on another council goal: a revision of the city’s much-maligned Tree Code, which regulates the permitting process for removal of trees in Lake Oswego. In March, the council passed an amendment that enables greater urban forestry management on large land parcels; following an Urban Forestry Summit in May, the city formed a volunteer Tree Code Committee to look for ways to give the same kind of options to owners of smaller properties. That work is ongoing.

-- Also on tap for 2016: changes to the city’s stormwater management regulations. An initial proposal from city planners triggered concern over the threshold for compliance and the burden it placed on property owners. In December, the plan was sent back to staff for further revisions.

7. Compounding interest

HEINEWhen allegations of fraud and conspiracy at The Bank of Oswego became public in April, former CEO Dan Heine passed them off as nothing more than “accusations, untruths and innuendo.”

“The notion that I was personally involved in a scheme or scandal to conceal problem loans and delinquencies from the bank’s examiners is preposterous,” he told The Review. “I am anxious for justice to be served.”

So was a federal grand jury.

In June, Heine — who retired in September 2014 from the community bank he founded — was indicted on 27 counts involving conspiracy to commit bank fraud and making false entries. Diana Yates, the bank’s former chief financial officer, also was arraigned on the charges.

Heine and Yates are accused of participating in a complex scheme to hide bad loans from the bank’s board of directors, shareholders and regulators from September 2009 through 2014 in an effort to portray the bank’s financial condition as much better than it was.

YATESThe federal indictment, which was unsealed on June 24, accuses the former Bank of Oswego officers of using bank or third-party proceeds to make payments on customers’ delinquent loans, mischaracterizing assets in reports to the bank’s board of directors and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and concealing information about loans made to bank insiders.

The indictment also alleges that Heine and Yates made false entries in the bank’s reports to the FDIC and to the board of directors about the status of various loans and transactions. Both have pleaded not guilty; their trial is scheduled to begin on Nov. 1, 2016.

Over the summer, Heine asked U.S. District Judge Michael Simon to order The Bank of Oswego to pay his legal fees as he fights the charges, saying he does not have the funds necessary to pay for his defense. Simon agreed, saying that ambiguity in the bank’s articles of incorporation allowed him to rule in Heine’s favor. Simon also found the $640 hourly rate of Heine’s chosen attorney, Jeffrey Alberts of the New York firm Pryer Cashman LLC, to be at the “upper limit” of reasonable.

If convicted, Heine and Yates face a maximum of 30 years in prison for each count, as well as the forfeiture of any money or property obtained as the result of the violations.

Allegations against Heine and Yates gained traction in July when former Bank of Oswego executive Geoff Walsh admitted his role in such a scheme as part of a plea deal on the eve of his own criminal trial, which was to include 32 fraud-related charges unrelated to his time at the Lake Oswego financial institution.

Walsh’s sentencing has been scheduled for March.

Lake Oswego High School Student Union members (from left) Shaheen Safari, Jack McLean, Blake Mindermann, Haley Bertelson, Farah Alkayed and Claire Torkelson urged their fellow Lakers to opt out of Smarter Balanced Assessment tests. Nearly 200 did.

8. Put to the test

“It’s not that we want to cause trouble for the school district or the parents or anything. It’s just what we personally believe in. We’re exercising our democratic right to speak our voice.”

And with that, Lake Oswego High student Shaheen Safari and other members of the LOHS Student Union launched a campaign in March that encouraged their fellow juniors to opt out of the new Smarter Balanced Assessment tests. By the time the first year of testing was finished, nearly 200 LOHS students had exercised that right — bringing the school’s participation rate down to 29.6 percent and contributing to an overall district rate that fell well below federal goals.

The Smarter Balanced tests were created to complement Common Core State Standards, a multi-state initiative intended to improve students’ college and career readiness. Districts across the country have redesigned curriculum to help students meet those standards, and students in third to eighth grade and high school juniors took the test for the first time this spring.

But the tougher, more time-consuming tests created controversy from the start, sparking a passionate debate over the value of standardized testing. On one side of the issue are the Oregon Education Association — the state’s largest teachers union — and parents and students who are critical of the new tests. On the other side is the U.S. Department of Education, which has warned state officials that federal aid could be in jeopardy if too many students opt out.

The LOHS Student Union, which is not affiliated with the school, evolved from a series of articles on the front page of the Lake Views student newspaper in March. The coverage included an opinion piece by all six editors headlined “Everyone, opt out now,” a news story about opt-out efforts across the country and a local story that quoted faculty, administrators and teachers union president Laura Paxson Kluthe.

“These tests are being foisted on teachers and students,” Paxson Kluthe told the newspaper.

In April, Student Union members told the school board that the Smarter Balanced exams require educators to “teach to the test” and are designed for students to fail. But Superintendent Heather Beck defended the tests, saying the improved data they generate will be used “in ways to continuously improve our system and professional development for administrators and teachers, as well as to help individual students with what they’re learning.”

Since then, Beck has continued to defend the tests. She said she is pleased that students who did take the exams “performed above expectations and above state averages” — scores released in September showed that 83.3 percent of students in Lake Oswego met or exceeded the state standards in English/language arts (compared to 54.1 percent statewide), while 71.5 percent met or exceeded the standards in math (compared to 40.8 percent statewide).

In the fall, Beck and other key administrators launched a campaign to increase participation by 11th-graders this year. Outreach to parent groups has been integral to their efforts, especially given the passage in June of a state law that actually makes it easier for students to opt out.

“Under HB 2655, the state is responsible to ensure parents are aware of the purpose and value of assessments and receive notice from their local school districts about their rights and obligations,” Gov. Kate Brown said as she added her signature to the bill. “Educators must engage with parents about the value of assessment and the potential consequences if parents opt out and student participation diminishes. We cannot afford to risk losing federal dollars, especially for students who have been traditionally underserved.”

Beck agrees.

“We already have great student outcomes, but we won’t be sitting on our laurels,” she said of student test scores and other accomplishments. “Continuous improvement in student growth is an imperative. Achieving that growth means that we will continue to evolve and enhance our approach to learning and achievement.”

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Cashiers await their first customers after the conversion of the Albertsons store on Boones Ferry Road into a Haggen Food & Pharmacy in March.

9. Markets of change

For 25 years, the grocery store on State Street in downtown Lake Oswego was Joe Albertson’s supermarket. The store on Boones Ferry Road was an Albertsons, too. And the Palisades Market on McVey Avenue was a longtime member of the Lamb’s family of stores.

But 2015 was a year of big changes for supermarkets in Lake Oswego. At year’s end, all three stores had new owners, and one still faced an uncertain future at the hands of auctioneers.

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Longtime store director Nick Goldsmith said goodbye to Palisades Market in July. The popular store became part of the Bale's Marketplace chain in June.-- Palisades Market — also known as Lamb’s Nature’s Choice Market — is now part of the Bales Marketplace chain, a locally owned and operated company that boasts six stores in the Portland area and employs about 450 workers. Bales, which has been in operation since 1961, bought Lamb’s Markets in June for an undisclosed sum.

Signs outside the store still say Palisades Market, and all of its employees kept their jobs as promised. But co-owner Bob Lamb has retired. And popular director Nick Goldsmith, who had been with the store since 1987, left the company in July to move to Arizona, where he hoped to spend more time with his wife, Darcy.

Troy Wolfe, a longtime Bales store director with more than 30 years of grocery experience, took over for Goldsmith. His goal, he says, is to have the best staff, the best store and provide the best customer service. “I am very excited to be here,” Wolfe said.

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Whole Foods Market says it will convert the former Albertsons on State Street into a streamlined, value-oriented store in 2016. -- With the closing of Wizer’s in 2013 and the shuttering of Albertsons’ State Street location in February, only the Safeway store on A Avenue remained to serve grocery shoppers in downtown Lake Oswego at year’s end. Albertsons officials said their store in the Oswego Village shopping center had not been profitable for some time.

“Despite the best efforts of the company and our associates,” Dennis McCoy told The Review, “we have not been able to reposition it to better compete in the marketplace.”

Perhaps Whole Foods Market will have better luck.

In August, the high-end grocer announced it would open a “streamlined, value-oriented store” called 365 by Whole Foods Market on the site in the second half of 2016. The concept: to provide more moderately priced products by focusing on Whole Foods’ cheaper in-house brand in a store that has a smaller, neighborhood feel with “technology woven in.”

-- News of the State Street store closing came on the heels of Albertsons’ announcement in December 2014 that it would convert its Boones Ferry Road location into a Haggen Food & Pharmacy. Nineteen other Albertsons and Safeway stores in Oregon — including the Albertsons location on Blankenship Road in West Linn — also were acquired by Haggen following a review by the Federal Trade Commission of the merger between Safeway and Albertsons; in all, 146 stores changed hands in five western states.

In March, the Lake Oswego store became the first of those locations to undergo a lightning-fast conversion, with a new color scheme and signage inside and out, expanded meat and produce departments, retagged shelves and more. But the rollout was far from smooth.

Albertsons sued Haggen for more than $36 million, saying the grocer failed to pay for 38 stores. Haggen filed a $1 billion countersuit and announced it would close several stores in Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada and Arizona.

Haggen filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September and auctioned off most of its locations in November, saying it planned to focus on 33 “core” stores and one stand-alone pharmacy in the Pacific Northwest. But in December, those plans were squashed by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross, who ordered Haggen to dispose of the core stores, too.

Haggen says it expects the Lake Oswego store will attract a buyer when it goes on the auction block in February. Store employees say they’ve heard that QFC may be interested, but those were only unconfirmed rumors at year’s end.

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Nine luxury homes drew more than 50,000 people to Lake Oswego in August for the 40th annual NW Natural Street of Dreams.

10. Dreams came true

Tens of thousands of people streamed into Lake Oswego in August for the 40th Annual NW Natural Street of Dreams, but the show’s impact extended far beyond the nine luxury homes on display at the corner of Goodall and Knaus roads.

The show’s organizers also set out to bring attention to the city, its residents and its businesses. And after a year of planning, communication and collaboration between the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland and city and business leaders, they appear to have done just that.

“(The show) enabled us to highlight and showcase our beautiful community,” said Keith Dickerson, the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce’s executive director.

Assistant City Manager Megan Phelan worked closely with the HBA to make sure that months of construction at The Highlands went smoothly and then to prepare for the crowds. Plans and backup plans were devised to ensure that parking and transportation operations went off without a hitch, and that weekend trolleys successfully carried showgoers from the Street of Dreams to activities and businesses downtown. They did.

Phelan and Rachel Trice, the HBA’s vice president of membership services and events, also met regularly with members of the business community, neighborhood associations and others to provide support, offer logistical advice and address concerns throughout the project. All of that seems to have worked, too.

“We just think it’s part of the bigger picture,” said Trice, “to tell everyone the story (of Lake Oswego).”

The show itself was a big hit, with attendance estimated at more than 50,000. Nine homes, each with a price tag of $2.5 million or more, featured the finest in traditional, Mid-Century Modern and ultra-modern design from six builders.

Local preservationists had hoped for the sensitive restoration of an historic home on the property — the Shaw House, which was designed by Portland architect John Yeon and built in 1950. Instead, the home received an extensive remodel from Cornerstone Construction Services and served as a centerpiece for the show.

In 2016, the Street of Dreams moves to West Linn, where organizers say it will have a different feel than the small-footprint houses at The Highlands. Instead, visitors will find eight sprawling, estate-style homes on lots of at least two


The gated, 63-acre community, which will also include more than 22 acres of vineyards, will be located directly across from the Oregon Golf Club on the corner of Southwest Petes Mountain Road and Southwest Schaeffer Road.

The finished homes are projected to carry price tags of $2.8 million to $4.2 million.

Contact Gary M. Stein at 503-636-1281 ext. 102 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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