What's On Deck: Next steps for North Anchor
Keeping up with local government can be tricky, and even seasoned veterans have difficulty deciphering agenda items at times.
So with our "What's On Deck" posts, we'll pick an upcoming agenda item (or two), fill you in and — when necessary — try to break through the city-speak.
Today, we look at the long, winding road that is the North Anchor project. The Lake Oswego City Council, acting in its role as the City's Redevelopment Agency Board, will revisit the project tomorrow, Oct. 1, about six weeks after a deal to build a 121-room boutique hotel fell through.
What is the North Anchor project?
The project is a City-driven effort to fill vacant land near First Street and B Avenue, creating a "North Anchor" to complement the "South Anchor" of the downtown area that includes the Lake View Village shopping center, Millennium Plaza Park and the Windward.
Beginning in 2015, the City worked with local developer Vanessa Sturgeon on a plan that originally called for a development that was part hotel, part age-restricted apartments with underground parking. The project then turned into 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 Council voted 5-2 to approve a development agreement in June of this year, but Sturgeon never signed the agreement and eventually pulled the proposal in August.
After four years of work, the City is back at square one.
What's the history behind this project?
The effort dates all the way back to 2004, when the City updated its East End Redevelopment Plan. The idea was to bring in a mixed-use development at First Street and B Avenue that included a public library, public parking retail space – a "North Anchor" to complement the existing "South Anchor" of the city closer to the lake (which now includes the Lake View Village shopping center, Millennium Plaza Park and the Windward).
However, in 2012 voters rejected a bond proposal that would have re-sited the library at the North Anchor property. Shortly thereafter, the City decided to pursue a mixed-use development without a library.
A Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued in 2015, and the City received just one response — from Sturgeon.
OK, so what's happening at this meeting?
The council will publicly address the future of the project for the first time since Sturgeon pulled her proposal.
In a memo to the City Council, Lake Oswego Redevelopment Manager Sidaro Sin and Planning & Building Services Director Scot Siegel framed the Oct. 1 discussion as a chance to reset.
"A Council goal for 2019 was to break ground on the North Anchor project," the memo read. "That of course is no longer possible but we now know more about potential options for the North Anchor site, which should save time in finding the right developer."
What are the council's options?
Sin and Siegel will ask the council if it wishes to modify its list of project objectives. Those objectives are: retail vibrancy, mix of uses, design excellence, community support and return on public investment.
The council will also consider if it should continue to use the RFP process, or instead pivot to a Request for Interest (RFI) or Request for Qualification (RFQ).
"The RFP moves the process further along as it requires proposers to include a preliminary development concept with the proposal, while the other two processes are more focused on obtaining interest or qualifications from potential proposers," the memo read.
The council will also be asked if it desires additional public input on the project. The City may also need to do more due diligence as part of the reset, as the memo noted that since 2015 "the site has grown by one parcel and the market appears to continue to be favorable, though traffic volumes have increased since 2010."
A possible schedule, to be approved by the council, is as follows:
Nov. 5: Council, acting as Redevelopment Agency Board, reviews draft solicitation for developers (either an RFP, RFQ, RFI or a hybrid).
Nov. 18: Developer solicitation is released.
Jan. 6, 2020: Proposals due.
Jan. 31: Proposals evaluated/interviews conducted.
Feb. 18: Board votes on authorization to negotiate.
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