Portland Business Journal I April 16, 2015
Carol Radich is not entirely surprised that the state Land Use Board of Appeals sided with the Lake Oswego City Council and developer Patrick Kessi on a proposed development in the heart of downtown.
As vice chair of the Evergreen Neighborhood Association, one of three groups that filed an appeal with LUBA contesting the city council’s approval of the mixed-use project, Radich said she was disappointed in the decision, but not surprised.
“In my own mind, I gave it about a 50-50 chance,” she said, “so I’m not surprised, but I was hopeful that there would be something different.”
Instead, in an opinion officially posted today, LUBA affirmed the city council’s interpretation of the city’s Community Development Code, paving the way for the 291,000-square-foot, three-building development to move forward.
Kessi, head of PHK Development Inc., greeted LUBA’s decision with enthusiasm.
“We really worked closely with the community and elected officials to create this project, so we were pretty confident that we were going to get that result,” he said. “You never know for sure, but we felt pretty confident.”
Kessi also said he felt that the Wizer project was not one meant for LUBA.
“LUBA usually hears cases about rezoning or people trying to build substantially above the height or outside the existing code, and this project is just not that,” he said.
With the LUBA appeal decided, Kessi said there’s some more engineering of plans to tend to, as well as financing for the project. The development, which will add just over 200 residential units as well as retail spaces to downtown, will run about $93 million.
About $5.2 million of that will come from the Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency. The remainder, Kessi said, will come from “typical lending partners.”
As of now, Kessi said demolition of the existing Wizer building is tentatively scheduled to begin in September, followed by excavation for underground parking. The entire development will take about 22 months to complete, so Kessi is expecting a July 2017 completion date.
After a request for proposal process last month, PHK selected Lease Crutcher Lewis as the contractor for the project. Kessi said the work will create about 1,000 to 1,200 temporary jobs over the course of construction. He also estimates that once the project is complete it will bring in an additional $600,000 in property taxes each year.
Radlich, of the Evergreen Neighborhood Association, said opponents of the project haven’t had a chance to discuss their next moves yet. Greg Hathaway, an attorney with Hathaway Koback Connors LLP who represented the other opponents, was not available to comment on his clients’ plans.
One option would be to appeal the decision again, this time to the Oregon Court of Appeals.
“As far as I know, there is no one group or individual that has made any decision,” Radlich said.
If opponents decide not to go that route, Radlich said she, personally, will continue to work to change the city’s code so that it’s more definitive on the kinds of developments — preferably smaller and less dense — that will be allowed in Lake Oswego.
A 48-year resident of the city, Radlich also said if Kessi’s project ends up coming to fruition, she’ll find a way to come to terms with it.
“I guess I’ll have to,” she said. “I’m not going to move.”