Concept designs call for a four-story building with office space, events center and ground-floor market
Editor's note: This story has been updated to include information about an underground parking garage level that is included in the concept designs for the building.
When it comes to redevelopment in downtown Lake Oswego, the first two projects that often come to mind are the under-construction Wizer Block and the still-in-the-planning-stages North Anchor. But now a third project may soon be added to the list: a four-story structure that would sit at the northeast corner of B Avenue and Third Street.
The new mixed-use development is being spearheaded by Jay and Miles Haladay, the father-and-son team behind 10 Branch, a recently founded capital investment fund aimed at "growth-stage" startups. The family purchased the current building on the site in February 2016 and says the new building is intended to serve in part as their company's future headquarters.
"This is part of our reinvesting strategy," Jay Haladay says.
But that's just one of several uses that the Haladays have planned for the building, which they say is being designed specifically to be used by residents of Lake Oswego, not as an attraction for people or businesses from elsewhere.
"We're trying to create a building that will serve the community here," Miles Haladay says. "People aren't going to come from downtown Portland to this building."
The top floor of the proposed building is intended to be an events center, which the Haladays say is something the downtown core currently does not have. Current options are either too small or not accessible to everyone, they say, which is why local organizations tend to hold their meetings outside of Lake Oswego.
That's a sentiment that nearby residents appear to share.
"We talk about that," says Carole Ockert, who chairs the First Addition Neighborhood Association. "There's no place to meet downtown — it's frustrating."
The other big draw of the proposed development is a ground-floor marketplace focusing on affordable food options. The Haladays say it would include a "small, high-end grocery store," as well as casual dining with easy takeout options.
"We're trying to provide the missing components of the walkable neighborhood," Miles Haladay says.
The Haladays say they're aware of concerns about traffic and parking in downtown Lake Oswego, which is why the plans also call for an underground parking garage level below the building.
The building's middle two floors would be office space — another component the Haladays say is missing from downtown. In addition to the new 10 Branch headquarters and room for other businesses, the developers say they plan to set aside some of the middle floors as "flex space" for individuals with home businesses who want a professional setting.
"There's not a ton of office space on this side of Lake Oswego," Miles Haladay says.
Nothing about the building's design has been finalized yet, but the concept plans depict a structure that would be 65 feet tall at its highest point, putting it well above the height of its neighbors on either side. Building height has been a controversial subject in the downtown core — particularly on the Wizer Block project — but the Haladays point to a variety of design features intended to minimize the visual impact of their new building.
The top level would feature a large, open deck space on the southern end, for example, as well as smaller decks on the eastern side. The goal: to bring the perceived height down to essentially three stories when viewed from the adjacent streets.
Additionally, the preliminary project plan calls for smaller apartments at the northern end of the property, which would have a height closer to that of the houses nearby. The buildings would get taller as they progress south along the block, creating what the Haladays say would be a gradual height transition.
"We think having that combination fits the neighborhood," Jay Haladay says. "This is kind of a transitional zone."
The Haladays say the transitional element is a big part of the block's design and usage plans. Located right on the edge of the First Addition neighborhood, the block is bordered by residential housing to the north and commercial buildings across the street to the south. Putting the apartments at the north end of the property allows the project to serve as a clear northern border to the commercial area, the developers say.
"That's very important to me," Miles Haladay says. "I don't want a bunch of commercial (buildings) on C Avenue any more than anyone else does."
Miles Haladay lives in First Addition, and he says he's determined to make sure the project fits in with the surrounding neighborhood. To that end, he's been working with the First Addition Neighborhood Association to refine the design and says he will be seeking additional public input.
The company held its first official pre-application meeting with City officials in December. The "pre-app" process is intended to give the City a chance to review the design and inform the developer about relevant design standards that the project will need to meet. Neighborhood association representatives are invited to sit in as well, and the December meeting was attended by Ockert and others from First Addition.
Senior Planner Debra Andreades said no major issues came up at the meeting, but she added that the process is still in the preliminary stage, with many details yet to be finalized.
"They're going toward a little bit more modern interpretation, which is not unheard of, but still they have to meet the downtown redevelopment standards, (which) are very specific," Andreades says. "It starts out with the concept and it gets more specific as the process goes, and we'll be working with them as it fills out more."
Despite recent contentious battles over the final height of the Wizer Block, First Addition neighbors don't appear to have raised major objections to the new project's height — although that may be partially due to the preliminary nature of the current design concepts. But neighbors who attended the pre-app meeting did express enthusiasm for the proposed uses of the building, especially the events center.
"The uses that they're planning for it, everyone has been really positive about on our board," Ockert says. "It's a good fit, a good complement to the North Anchor."
(The still-in-development North Anchor project is planned for the block between First and State streets north of B Avenue; current plans call for it to feature a boutique hotel — but no event center.)
Ockert points to a few other features of the Haladay project that she says take the neighborhood setting into account, including a southern-facing upper deck that would ensure that noise from events is focused away from the neighborhood — and give attendees a clear view of Mt. Hood.
"It gives us a public use of a downtown amenity — the view of Mt. Hood," she says. "We're thrilled that they've chosen to do that as opposed to, say, putting office space on the top floor."
Ockert stresses that the neighborhood association board has not yet taken an official position on the project, and she expects future discussions will focus on the height step of the building, the availability of parking and the potential traffic impacts.
"I already know from past developments that this is something my board cares about," Ockert told The Review. "Parking is often something my board has strong feelings about — and how do we keep the traffic redirected away from C Avenue?"
She says the board will likely also make style and design suggestions as the development process continues.
"You don't get all upset about the drawing you see at the pre-app," she says. "It's the beginning, and you work on refining it from there."
Lake Oswego Redevelopment Director Brandt Williams was also at the meeting, and he, too, expressed enthusiasm about the proposed uses for the building — although he cautioned that the design process is still preliminary.
"It's an interesting project," he says, "and one that — speaking from a redevelopment standpoint — would be an excellent project for our downtown, especially given the type of uses up there. The mix of uses that they're talking about would be a real good thing to have in our downtown."
The next step for the Haladays will be a meeting with the entire First Addition Neighborhood Association, plus additional pre-apps if more information from the City is needed. Once the developers have settled on a final design that they believe accounts for all the standards, they can submit it to the Development Review Commission for evaluation.
"Any project is like a bunch of puzzle pieces," Andreades told The Review. "There's drainage, stormwater management, street improvements, parking, access, tree removal — they just have to put all those pieces together and come up with a project that meets the standard. Getting all those puzzle pieces to work is sometimes the challenge."