WL council will evaluate 'development agreement' for Tannler property
Almost exactly two years after the West Linn City Council denied an application from ConAm Properties, LLC for a mixed-use development at an 11-acre space near Blankenship Road and Tannler Drive, developers are gearing up for another run.
With ConAm now out of the picture, this new development proposal will be spearheaded by property owner Jeff Parker and Tannler Properties, LLC. And this time, Parker and his colleagues are taking a different approach to the development process, having submitted an application Sept. 22 for a "statutory development agreement" with the City of West Linn. The terms for that potential development agreement were laid out in a July 6, 2017 letter of intent signed by both Parker and West Linn City Manager Eileen Stein.
That development agreement, which is tentatively scheduled to be discussed at a Dec. 4 City Council work session, essentially lays out a series of steps and conditions to be followed by both the City and the developer during the development review process. In exchange for the City's promise to review "in good faith" a series of upcoming applications — including those for zoning changes and the proposed development itself — Parker and Tannler Properties stated in the agreement that they would pay to realign Tannler Drive through the property and install a traffic signal at that new intersection if a Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) proved the need for one.
According to Assistant City Attorney Megan Thornton, the realignment and other measures described in the development agreement would only take place if the City Council were to approve the final development applications from Tannler Properties. If the development proposal were to be denied, Tannler Drive would not be realigned.
"It's just the very first step," Thornton said. "The development agreement would be followed by a number of different land use actions, and only if those are approved would the applicant be required to follow through with (the Tannler Drive realignment)."
Mayor Russ Axelrod, for his part, said he was aware of the development agreement proposal but frustrated with how it was presented to neighbors.
"All of it was prefaced on working with the community and coming up with the solution they liked before coming to the city," Axelrod said. "He submitted something (to the City) before meeting with the community about it. That won't fly in this town."
Parker hosted a meeting with neighbors of the site Nov. 7 at the West Linn Police Station to provide more details about his plans, which he says are still in their beginning stages.
"This is just a concept, this is not what we're trying exactly to do," Parker said. "We're trying to get a nice fitness center, a bunch of parking, realign the road so it lines up with the current (business center) driveway ... and then get a multi-family concept up (on the north end of the property) and do a rezone."
As is laid out in the proposed development agreement, Tannler Properties seeks to rezone the north side of the property from "Office-Business Center" (OBC) to a residential zone of R 2.1, which would allow for the construction of apartments.
The previous ConAm application — which featured 180 apartment units and seven small commercial spaces — was denied in large part because the City Council felt it contained too much residential space and did not meet the spirit of the OBC zone.
Parker's latest concept plan would still allow for a mix of uses on the property as a whole, and he envisions a large national fitness center — the name of which he would not disclose — as the commercial centerpiece on the southern end of the property along Blankenship.
"I think this will energize that (area)," he said. "Right now it's been dead, because there's not enough people to feed it. That's why Albertsons left, and it's hard to find another anchor because there's not enough people."
As for the realignment of Tannler, the idea was that such an action might abate traffic concerns that came up during the ConAm hearings. Under the proposed realignment, the north-south road would jut west — through Parker's property — and exit onto Blankenship through an existing commercial property.
"The City and I think a lot of you would like to see Tannler realigned," Parker said. "This has been kind of a problem for us, because we lose property, but I decided it was probably a good idea to try to work together and realign the road."
Parker said that he'd met with Stein and Axelrod in the time since the ConAm proposal was rejected, and those meetings helped inform this latest proposal for a development agreement.
However, Axelrod said that he was not involved in the process of drafting the letter of intent and development agreement this past summer, and had made no promises to Parker.
"I don't even know what he's planning," Axelrod said. "The council was approached about a development agreement. We said, 'Well, OK, but we need to understand what it is that he's actually proposing to do.' ... The council hasn't approved anything."
Axelrod said he met with Parker after the ConAm proposal was denied, and that Parker asked him what it would take to successfully develop the property.
"I said, 'It needs to meet code, and it has to be a proposal that fits the community,'" Axelrod said. Specifically, he suggested to Parker that a hotel could be an ideal fit in that area.
Parker, for his part, said during the Nov. 7 meeting that the prospect of a hotel on the property was met with dead ends.
"There was lots of research (on a hotel) and we kind of exhausted that," Parker said.
Parker also stated that he had the option to construct three office buildings on the property — which would meet current zoning standards — but that he did not view that as an economically viable option at this point in time.