Boones Ferry business owners say discomfort caused by redevelopment is a necessary evil

PMG PHOTO: SAM STITES - Riccardo Spaccarelli and Mike Buck stand in front of Boones Ferry Road, the thoroughfare which separates their two long-standing establishments.

It seems like just about everywhere you turn in Lake Oswego these days, there's a new development or infrastructure project underway.

From the development of Lake View Village and The Windward in the east end to the Kruse Way office park in the west, Lake Oswego has grown a lot in the last several decades, and it continues to expand each year with new residents moving in for the schools, parks and neighborhoods, as well as businesses — some new, some established — opening up here.

That growth brings added strain on the city's infrastructure, including roads and utilities, and that strain prompts more projects as the city, its residents and local business owners try to keep up.

But growth just for growth's sake isn't what Lake Oswego aims for. In fact, the city's Economic and Capital Development Department has a plan for growth — created in the early 2000s and revitalized in 2010 — that lays out just how the city could flourish.


"We're seeing the fruit of things that were planted long ago," said Sid Sin, redevelopment manager for the City of Lake Oswego.

While the east end has already seen much of the City's plan come to fruition — and will even further benefit from the planned redevelopment of City Hall, the North Anchor building and the new Haladay project Beacon at Third Street and B Avenue — the west end and Lake Grove district haven't seen nearly as much investment.

But that's beginning to change with the approaching $36 million Boones Ferry Road rebuild project expected to commence this June. According to Sin, the Boones Ferry project aims to slow things down in Lake Grove, bringing heightened safety and a sense of place to a location that has long been disjointed and hard to navigate by foot.

Business owners, residents and community leaders in the Lake Grove district have waited nearly 20 years to see their vision come to light through multiple different plans and committees at work. They hope that what some consider an underserved portion of the city will become a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly business district with a village aesthetic and feel, much like that of Lake Oswego's downtown.

Two of the most prominent stakeholders in the Lake Grove area are local business owners Riccardo Spaccarelli and Mike Buck.

Both men have seen the Boones Ferry Road project take shape in multiple different forms. They've been on both sides of the table, for and against certain aspects, but after all the years of going back-and-forth, two of the oldest businesses (Riccardo's Ristorante and Gubanc's) in the entirety of Lake Oswego will see a grand renovation of their corridor to bring some well-deserved vitality to the area.

"It's really building upon the character that Riccardo's and Gubanc's has started, to reinforce that and draw more businesses," Sin said. "It's all about timing, and it's really their time to shine."

COURTESY PHOTO: LAKE OSWEGO PUBLIC LIBRARY - An aerial view of Boones Ferry Road circa 1969 illustrates the massive growth Lake Grove has seen over the years and how it might continue to grow once the corridor is redeveloped.

For Spaccarelli and Buck, the Boones Ferry project is both a blessing and a curse. While the two business owners have fared well despite Boones Ferry Road being a less-than-welcoming environment for pedestrian activity, they see how much better things could be with widened sidewalks, bike lanes, crosswalks, lighting, greenscape, public art, benches and everything that else comes with the redesign.

"It's a feast for the senses," Buck said. "(The outcome) is invitational. People want to feel a sense of beauty and safety, those are the two biggest things."

But they both know that that construction period, which is expected to last nearly two years, is not going to be comfortable for anyone.

"Remodeling is pretty ugly, whether it's in your home or in the community. When you start tearing things down to remodel it looks pretty tragic," Buck added.

Despite that discomfort, they're excited for Lake Grove — an area that the Spaccarelli and Buck families have dedicated their lives and livelihoods to improving and supporting — to receive a much-needed face lift. With more than two million square feet of class-A office space less than a half mile away along Kruse Way, the Mercantile Village development and completion of The Springs expansion project, Lake Grove is set to become the village center its stakeholders long dreamt it would be.

That starts with the character that Riccardo's, Gubanc's and other restaurants and businesses have built and takes it a step further to improve the quality of place.

"I think that it is about place. We're connected in that sense. What I do here is try to bring my heritage and make it part of this place, and that's what we have been doing for 40 years," Spaccarelli said. "Everyone knows what we do over here, and everyone knows what Mike does over there. We're constantly trying to build on that and bring things and products from my part of Italy to share with the community, and incorporate it into the fabric of what's here."

For the City, according to Sin, planning projects like Boones Ferry Road is a tough balance between bringing vitality and preserving the local character that establishes a district's sense of place to begin with. They try to strike that balance by bringing in stakeholders like Buck who served on the project advisory committee and was involved in drafting the 2008 Lake Grove Village Center Plan.

"We're on an arterial (road), but we're trying to be a village center. How do you become a village center with a four-lane highway (in the middle)?" Buck said. "That's why we did this design with the medians to make it more hospitable and mitigate some of the negative impacts like traffic with 20,000 cars per day, trucks, and all that it brings."

The project will also prompt businesses like Babica Hen — owned by Buck's son and former city council member Joe Buck — Riccardo's and Gubanc's to redesign their own frontage on Boones Ferry to build new outdoor seating and plaza areas that will invite customers to take a seat and stay awhile.

"Twenty-to-30 years ago,everyone went elsewhere for entertainment and dining. There was a migration toward the city. Now it's reversed; we're becoming a destination," Spaccarelli said. "The people who live here now love to hang out here. People want to be here because it's home. The neighborhood feels like home."

While Spaccarelli and Buck aren't necessarily thrilled with dealing with construction traffic in phase one of the project — redeveloping Boones Ferry from Madrona Street to Oakridge Road/Reese Road — they're excited for the outcome. They've also been impressed with all the communication and help they've received from the City's Project Lead Crystal Shum and Citizen Information Specialist Katy Kerklaan, who recently stopped by a Lake Grove Business Association meeting to give some updates on the project and offer help in any way they can.

"We're excited," Buck said. "The street will be tactile. You'll be able to touch different elements (of the Lake Grove district). Right now, you're only safe in a car."

Contact Lake Oswego Review reporter Sam Stites at 503-479-2375 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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