Lake Oswego’s Develpment Rreview Commission told Pat Kessi with W&K Developers they would need to go back to the drawing board and rethink their plans. It looks like the citizens had been right all along when they expressed concerns over the mass and density of this proposal in their town square. When is a high-density apartment complex in our downtown with only 10 percent retail a complementary plan for our village square?

Unfortunately, it appears our city officials have looked the other way when it comes to honoring Lake Oswego codes. They signed off loosely for variances, which in fact, were breaking our codes. They felt village character was not applicable, while citizens begged to differ.

Lake Oswego had a vision for our downtown implemented in the urban design plan and the East End Redevelopment Plan that was rich in village character. Our city leaders and citizens have worked tirelessly throughout the years on a detailed concept for our town in moving forward. If we choose to ignore the codes and approve this out-of-scale apartment complex in our town square we will undo the entire well-thought-out plans for Oswego’s future.

From the recent DRC meeting, the code exceptions the applicant requested are as follows:

  • Residential use on the ground floor on Evergreen and Second streets, which by city code should be retail. The developers currently have 90 percent apartment rentals with only 10 percent retail.
  • The DRC would not agree to the fifth floor because the code clearly states “new buildings shall be no greater than three stories tall” with the possible exception of four stories in specific situations. This denial will remove approximately 14 apartments. Pat Kessi’s recent focus group is recommending the two- and three-bedroom apartments be allowed to be reduced in size to more studios and one bedroom.
  • Building the retail parking entrance on First Street was concerning to the DRC members. The requested variance was recognized by them to be potentially dangerous. Yet, considering the building would require a major change, they indicated they may still approve it.
  • The Development Review Commission felt buildings B and C were not in village character and recommended the large buildings be broken up. This remains to be seen if the developers plan to make this change.
  • It has become apparent this project was revenue driven with sloppy work done from city hall. Market studies and focus groups trumped codes. This was a big mistake. For example, Pat Kessi said they had 52 condominium commitments back in June. The current market study implies condominiums are no longer selling; suggesting apartments are a better fit. Codes are there for a reason and require developers to build to current standards assuring their plans are appropriate and complementary to our town.

    The sheer mass of these private buildings would have a profound negative impact on Millennium Plaza Park and surrounding structures. The park holds more than 50 events each year, with Farmers’ Market welcoming up to 8,000 people annually. Little discussion was given to the parking and traffic consequences of this project to the village square.

    The citizens had it right from the beginning. Follow the codes and the city plans. Scrap this project and start over with something our town will always be proud of.

    Tom Grigg is a resident of Lake Oswego.

    Contract Publishing

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