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Revised proposal for the Wizer Block is much better

As a result of the stir regarding the Wizer Block, the city urged developer Patrick Kessi to do a redesign on a more human scale. This new re-design of Block 137 is the result of collaboration between the city’s Development Review Committee (DRC), the developer and concerned Lake Oswegans, and the concerns of the DRC and many in the community were addressed in the new redesign.

Lake Oswego architect Rich Farrington came up with a new proposal that is smaller, better proportioned, better fits the village architecture and still maintains a very high quality of design.

Fact one: The fifth story has been eliminated from the design. The three separate buildings (same number as Lake View Village) have facades that break up the faces of buildings. The building across from the townhomes on Second Street is compatible with the residences across from it. No building is taller than the 60-foot code limit, and none is taller than Lake View Village’s highest roof peak.

Fact two: When opponents compare Lake View Village and the Wizer Block and find the Wizer Block too massive, they ignore the above-ground square footage of Lake View Village. When you add it back, Lake View Village above ground is 236,000 square feet, and the Wizer structure above ground is 291,000 square feet.

Fact three: The newly redesigned Wizer site preserves 27 percent of the land in open spaces: generous pedestrian walkways, public art and landscaping. By comparison, the Lake View Village site preserved 14.4 percent of the land.

Fact four: Opponents argue that the Wizer Block does not provide enough retail space. The new design increased retail space by 30 percent to 36,500 square feet, over four-fifths of an acre. Interestingly, some downtown landlords are having trouble filling spaces already built out, so this space may be a tough sell. While it is handy to shop in downtown Lake Oswego if you live on the east side, the truth is that most Lake Oswegans, especially us west-siders, shop online or at the malls. It would be nice if that weren’t so, but facts are facts.

“It takes two to speak the truth - one to speak, and another to hear,” said American author Henry David Thoreau more than two centuries ago. The truth is that the Portland area is growing. The Wizer block is dated. We defeated the rat warren that was the Foothills design, but some rational density increase is inevitable, and the whole notion of private property requires that if an owner develops within the rules that are already in force, he or she deserves some certainty that the project will be approved.

Let’s allow the community, the Lake Oswego Development and Review Commission and the developer to work to preserve what we have, enhance what we get, and create a more energetic core to Lake Oswego.

Tom Maginnis is a resident of Lake Oswego.




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