City Council approves Wizer Block plan
Lake Oswego Review, September 25, 2014 By Saundra Sorenson
Overturns DRC rejection late Wednesday
Photo Credit: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Mayor Kent Studebaker and City Councilor Donna Jordan listen to public testimony Tuesday from opponents of a plan to redevelop downtown Lake Oswegos Wizer Block.
After almost eight hours of public testimony, the Lake Oswego City Council sat poised Wednesday night to render its verdict on one of the most contentious and controversial redevelopment projects to hit the city in more than a decade.
The choice facing the council: Uphold or overturn the Development Review Commission's rejection of developer Patrick Kessi's plan to build a 290,000-square-foot, mixed-use development at the corner of A Avenue and First Street in downtown Lake Oswego.
At issue is a proposal from Kessi's Evergreen Group LLC to replace the former home of Wizer's Oswego Foods with three four-story buildings. The development would include 207 residential units and about 36,000 square feet of retail space.
In August, the DRC rejected Kessi's plan by a 3-2 vote, saying it did not reflect downtown Lake Oswego’s “village character” and its requirement for "small-scale structures"; that the residential/commercial split Kessi proposed was not appropriate for the city’s so-called “compact shopping district” as defined by the Urban Design Plan; and that it violated code restrictions on ground-floor residential use in the city's core.
Kessi appealed that ruling in late August, and the City Council set aside three nights this week to hear public testimony and make its own decision.