Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Downtown "vibrancy" questioned

Limited vibrancy at the end of the cul-de-sac

A comment on the post about the letter Kessi letter to the Lake Oswego Review is printed below.  Original LOR article at:
Lake Oswego Review,  October 16, 2014   By Patrick Kessi

"Wizer Block: Oswegans will give the project life"

The writer, Gerry Good, has a MBA with a background as a retail executive.  I would like to add my own 2-cents:  

Lake Oswego downtown customer base is not just constrained by the river creating a half circle. The circle shrinks to an arc if you consider the low population gaps to the north with Dunthorpe and Tryon Creek SP, and south where people in low-density West Linn have many more choices about where to shop and dine. The arc shirks in depth when you reach the limits of the Lake Grove shopping base.  And then there is "leakage" - the population that even now leaves 
the downtown area to shop elsewhere, where they can find the goods they need where access is easy.  

The quest for a "vibrant" downtown shopping district has been a dream of the Chamber of 
Commerce for more than fifty years.  Even with better connections to the area, people will still have choices closer to where they shop without having to come to LO.  Our retail growth is limited by geography and naïveté.  It's all about location.


This project will not bring "vitality" to downtown LO.  IMHO, it may even kill downtown forever.

During the construction period there will be thousands of trucks (yes, thousands as one Commissioner calculated at the DRC) going in and out of the site. Watch as B Avenue becomes clogged with traffic as people avoid A or downtown altogether). The noise will be deafening. No one in their right mind will want to be on First Street either inside or outside. Watch the businesses die.

The smartest one in this whole thing is Kyra who had the sense to move her place to larger quarters. Watch her business boom!

Then when the monster is finished it will be unbelievably depressing. Visually this will over shadow Lake View Village. No sunlight there after 2 PM.

What incredibly uninformed person thinks 300 new residents will bring vitality? Yes, 300. Most of these apartments will be small (600 sq. ft.). That is only big enough for one person. How will 300 people create vitality? Come on tell me. Surely, more than 300 a day will have been driven away from the area. And since these are expensive (per Kessi minimum of $2500/month) who will be living there and what are their shopping patterns.

Some say it will be people downsizing. OK, are these people going to pay say $35,000/year in rent? If they do how much are they going to spend. Then there are just the spending patterns of retirees. I know I'm retired. I do not spend like I did in my 40s.

Well, it will be young people. OK, higher income young people. Good spenders but an awful lot of it done electronically. 

Let's say it is 50/50 young/older. On any given night you might get 25% of the younger set going out to dinner. That's only 30 people. How does that bring vitality?

The real problem with vitality in downtown is that it is a semi-circle trading area. The river cuts it off to the east. You only have half a trading area (usually a circle) to begin with. That means you have to work twice as hard to draw people. Our downtown merchants don't do that. If they did you would see events, festivals, etc to bring people there. But, it is too late now.

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