Lake Oswego's Mercantile Center project wins final approval
Editor's note: The Lake Oswego Development Review Commission gave final approval Sept. 12 to a proposed mixed-use development on the site of the Providence Mercantile Center. The 4-1 vote, which came after The Review's deadline for this story, mirrored a Sept. 5 vote to tentatively approve the project.
Lake Oswego's Development Review Commission has tentatively approved an application from CenterCal Properties and Trammell Crow Company to redevelop the Providence Mercantile Center on the corner of Kruse Way and Boones Ferry Road.
The vote at the DRC's Sept. 5 meeting was 4-1, with two commissioners absent and only commissioner Paden Prichard voting no.
The proposed project would replace the existing three-building complex with a four-story, 208-unit apartment building along the site's northern and western sides and a smaller retail building along the southeast edge. The development would also boast a "festival street" with shops, restaurants and perhaps a small gourmet market, and a community gathering space with covered seating, a fountain, a fire pit and art installations.
The center of the property and the bottom level of the apartment complex would feature retail parking; residents would park in a hidden three-story garage inside the upper floors of the apartment building.
The hearing for the application actually began four weeks ago at a previous DRC meeting, but it took that entire session — as well as all of a second meeting two weeks ago — to get through the staff report and public testimony, so the final deliberations and decision were pushed back to Sept. 5.
The deliberations focused on several of the issues that had come up during public testimony, as well as questions that the commissioners had raised at the previous meetings. Several commissioners continued to voice concerns about the potential traffic impact of the new development and the accuracy of the applicants' traffic study.
Commission Vice-Chair Brent Ahrend said he was comfortable with the traffic findings that were available, but he said he was still concerned about a lack of analysis on morning traffic, which he said could be more greatly impacted by some of the site's potential business uses.
"What happens if there's a coffee shop in there?" he asked.
Some of the discussion also focused on the estimated traffic from the existing Providence Mercantile Center compared to what actually occurs day-to-day. The traffic study found that the new development would not generate more traffic than the maximum amount that could be generated by the current complex, but several commissioners noted that the campus has not been fully occupied for many years.
"I'm asked to believe the trips coming off the new development are going to match what's coming from there today, and I have trouble believing that," said commission Chair David Poulson.
Ultimately, Poulson said he accepted the results of the traffic study and joined Ahrend and Commissioners Jeff Shearer and Jason Frankel in voting to approve the project, subject to a set of additional design conditions recommended by City staff.
Prichard said his no vote was due to concerns about the traffic impact, including problems with the plans for delivery truck access. He also cited the massing of the proposed structure as a concern, particularly on the side facing Kruse Way.
The developers had presented updated designs during the hearing in response to concerns from neighbors and commissioners that the Kruse Way side appeared too monolithic, but Prichard said the problem hadn't been resolved.
"I don't believe enough work has been done to break up the massing on that side," he said.
The Sept. 5 decision was tentative, in order to give City staff time to draft a final version of the commission's findings. The DRC is scheduled to reconvene for final adoption of the findings at a special meeting on Sept. 12.
Final approval will be followed by a 15-day appeal period. Appeals can only be filed by individuals or groups such as neighborhood associations who offered written or oral testimony during the public hearing.
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