The community has spoken, and the City Council should vote to uphold the Development Review Commission’s decision to deny approval of Evergreen Group LLC’s proposal for the Wizer Block.

The Wizer Block is part of the compact shopping district and should be developed accordingly. The city should not approve a development that air-drops a high-density apartment complex that is out of character with the neighborhood. There are other options that could achieve the objectives of the code and still encourage commercial activity more consistent with Lake Oswego standards.

Rehabilitation of the existing structure would be an excellent option, especially considering the ample underground parking available. Not all of the structures need to be kept intact and some could be added to accommodate the needs of potential tenants. Depending on the structural integrity of the existing structure, it may even be viable to build a second floor that could contain office space. This project would provide ample retail capacity for the compact shopping district and provide a facelift for the neighborhood.

Another option is demolition of the current site and development of a compact shopping district within the definition of village character. This project would adhere to the guidelines set by city code and would create a sense of community in the downtown core. The developer in this scenario might want to consider keeping the existing underground parking so that the city would not have to use urban renewal funds to make the project economically feasible.

There are examples of success to point to in Lake Oswego already. Lake Grove Village was a rehabilitation of an old Wizer’s store that is extremely successful and does not include multifamily housing. Lake View Village, across the street from Block 137, is another example of success that did not require multifamily housing to survive.

The Evergreen Group is not the only developer in town, and the proposed project is not the only option. A compact shopping district can and should be developed in downtown Lake Oswego.

Matthew J. Keenen is a Lake Oswego resident, member of the Transportation Advisory Board and candidate for City Council.

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