The time has come to talk about redevelopment of the north end of the Foothills area…the land between State Street and the Willamette River and north of the Oswego Pointe apartments. Unless we want the city to grow out into the Stafford triangle, then we must grow up in the north end of the Foothills area.
By possibly 2027, the East End Urban renewal district will have largely completed its 40 years journey. The district can be shut down having fulfilled its mission revitalizing downtown. It can be easily argued the benefits, fiscal and otherwise have outweighed the costs of this multi-decade effort. Shutting down the district “frees up” approximately $2.3 million dollars a year which over the next two decades can be used to replace bridges and other infrastructure in our city. An additional approximately $4.9 million will go to schools and other governments. A success story compared to what might have been.
More importantly, the city can initiate its next multi-decade plan……the redevelopment of the north end of the Foothills area. The Foothills Plan adopted by a previous city council is already in place. It needs some tweaking, but the core projects in the North blocks, primarily infrastructure, have been identified. There is no need to reinvent the plan. Fifteen infrastructure projects were identified. There is a need to begin the community work now to tweak the plan and prepare a new urban renewal district to go into effect the day the existing downtown urban renewal district is shut down.
When a new urban renewal district is formed, all increases in property taxes within the district must be used in the new district, i.e., they cannot be spent on other government purposes. The increase in tax revenues from the district does not represent a new tax, but rather a reallocation of a portion of existing property taxes. A new Foothills urban renewal district covering a similar area to the current district could generate an initial tax increment of about $250,000 a year. The $250,000 increment, which increases by 3% each year can be used to pay for the needed infrastructure improvements in the new Foothills district. Schools and other services lose out on their share of the increase.
The focus in the new district should be on building “up” in the Foothills commercial and light industrial area. With Lake Oswego standards, it comes down to specifics – what specific infrastructure projects are needed. How much will each cost? How many can be done? How will it be paid for? Yes, to community engagement, design, clear, objective and specific standards and swift processing of development projects that meet those standards.
Work is proceeding nicely on the replacement Tryon Creek wastewater treatment plant in the Foothills light industrial area. While the treatment plant project stands on its own, it is integral to the future success of redevelopment. It is part of providing a first-rate infrastructure so a first-rate quality of life can follow.
Downtown Lake Oswego and Lake Grove did not happen by accident. They are among the economic engines of our city that draw locals and visitors alike to enjoy eating, shopping, working, living and playing. It took sustained, decades long work and commitments to make our city what it is today. We enjoy a quality of life because of these commitments. It is easier, much easier, to visualize the future than to get there. That Foothills vision work has been largely done. Let us begin the hard work of modification, execution and implementation. The time is now to continue the multi decade process with Foothills light industrial and commercial area.
Past Member – Lake Oswego City Council 2011 – 2018
4088 Orchard Way
Please note the column is a reflection of my views and not necessarily those of the City Council