Council vote paves way for new hotel in downtown LO
Make way for a 121-room boutique hotel at First Street and B Avenue.
The conceptual drawings for the North Anchor project led by local developer Vanessa Sturgeon of Sturgeon Development Partners were approved by the Lake Oswego City Council acting as the Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency Tuesday after Sturgeon and architect Bob Thompson of TVA Architects updated the Council on the materials, treatments and design language used in the drawings.
The Council's approval at this juncture marks a huge step forward in a process that has stumbled along for the past three years. The project's shape has morphed through the course of the process; originally, the developers called for a part hotel, part age-restricted apartment building with underground parking. The project now includes four floors of a high-end hotel with a restaurant and meeting rooms on the main level, including an above ground parking structure wrapped with retail on the far west end across First Street adjacent to the main building.
"The City has been pretty incredible in terms of allowing us the flexibility to make this project work because we really want to make sure we're able to build it with the highest quality materials," Sturgeon told The Review. "Bob (Thompson) is a world-famous architect, he's Nike's main architect and has done towers all over the world. I feel like his designs are a gift to any city they're in. Lake Oswego is where I'm from, so I'm excited to be able to drive by this project every day, and I can't wait to see it go up."
According to Thompson, careful thought and attention was given to making sure this project fit within Lake Oswego's style and village character. Thompson said he wanted the project to feel simple, yet elegant in order to fit in with its surroundings, while sticking out at the same time.
"It's a big project, so our approach was to break it into multiple buildings. We're dealing with a scale we would consider to be pertinent to the type of architecture character of downtown Lake Oswego," Thompson said. "Rather than do one building that would almost be kind of monolithic in its character, we're really trying to bring a lot of those village components to the architecture and language of the project."
The hotel and restaurant building is split into two parts along B Avenue, with the restaurant and interior plaza between them and a skybridge connecting the two sides across the alley between First and State Streets. Since the alley won't be needed to access underground parking, there is the possibility that the alley will not need to be vacated, which would eliminate the need to relocate utilities that are in the alley.
Retail space has been increased from approximately 8,000 square feet to potentially up to 16,000 square feet, occupying most of the ground floor of the building on the west side of First Street, with a parking garage featuring 162 spaces for the hotel, restaurant, retail and a small portion of public parking.
While the building is still in the conceptual phase and requires further refinement as it moves forward, the Council reacted favorably to the new drawings.
"I would like to thank (Sturgeon and Thompson) for their work on this," said Councilor Jackie Manz. "This will be a wonderful addition to downtown Lake Oswego."
Councilor John Wendland echoed Manz's comments, saying he believes this project will open up the City to a new avenue of activity taking Lake Oswego in good direction.
"I think the illustrations you've brought forward are perfect for Lake Oswego," Wendland said. "Thanks for doing all the adjustments. I know it's lots of balls in the air, but it's a great project. The more I talk to our citizens they're excited about this."
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The project was at a crossroads back in December of last year and earlier this year in January when Sturgeon came before the Council to tell them that a smaller hotel wouldn't be able to meet demand, and therefore wouldn't attract an operator capable of running the type of high-end hotel befitting Lake Oswego. The idea of changing the project so late in the game made some members of the Council uneasy, but they reluctantly decided to allow Sturgeon to return with updated conceptual drawings, and, ultimately, found the new drawings to be satisfactory.
Only one of the six councilors present — with Daniel Nguyen being excused — wasn't in favor of the new direction of the project. Councilor Theresa Kohlhoff made it clear that she couldn't back the project because she was opposed to the idea of bringing more above ground parking to the downtown sector. She also said her preference would have been to see the project have some sort of affordable housing aspect.
City Manager Scott Lazenby voiced his recommendation for the Council to approve the project and to direct City Attorney David Powell to begin working on a new development agreement with SDP.
"Cities across the northwest would love to have this sort of project," Lazenby said. "I think it will stimulate our downtown; the hotel will bring in a lodging tax revenue to the City, the restaurant and retail there will be an attraction, so I don't hesitate in recommending approval at this stage."
With that, the Council voted 5-1 to approve the conceptual drawings and move forward. According to the report submitted to the Council, the timeline for the next steps will be as follows:
— March 31, a revised disposition and development agreement signed by both parties
— April 30, earnest money deposit of $100,000
— June 18, design development drawings submitted to Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency (City Council) for approval
— July 31, development application submitted for city land-use review and approval
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