Lake Oswego Wizer Block is now ‘The Windward’

Article by Pamplin Media GroupOriginally publish online at The Lake Oswego Review 6/8/17.  

Mixed-use development’s new name reflects it prime location next to Oswego Lake


The Windward's logo is designed to signify decades of water-related activities that helped define Lake Oswego.

The Windward’s logo is designed to signify decades of water-related activities that helped define Lake Oswego.

For years, it’s been known as the Wizer Block. Officially, it’s called Block 137. And now the mixed-use development rising at the corner of First Street and A Avenue in downtown Lake Oswego has a new name: The Windward.

That’s the word this week from developer Patrick Kessi, who says the new name was chosen because the property sits above Oswego Lake and offers dramatic views of Lakewood Bay and Mount Hood. The development’s logo signifies decades of water-related activities that helped define the city, he said.

“I am proud of the part The Windward will play in helping this community shape its future,” Kessi told The Review. “This project is a timeless mixed-use development, which not only is environmentally sustainable but also will attract to the core of LO a cross-section of people who will help continue to make Lake Oswego vibrant and economically progressive.”

The Windward is composed of three buildings inspired by complementary architectural styles: English Tudor on First Street, Arts and Crafts on Second Street and Oregon Rustic on A Avenue. It’s the first mixed-use development to be built in downtown Lake Oswego in more than 17 years.

When it is completed, the $100 million development will include 200 apartments, 42,000 square feet of commercial space and parking for 430 cars, of which 135 spaces will be for public parking.

Leasing is scheduled to begin in late summer, with residents expected to begin moving in during the first quarter of 2018. For leasing updates, go to www.livethewindward.com. For construction progress, go to www.timeline-lo137.com or www.facebook.com/TimelineLO137.

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WHAT GOES UP…

Written by Anthony Macuk.  Originally published online Wednesday, 24 May 2017 by the Lake Oswego Review. 

With the vertical stage of construction all but done, crews remove the tallest of two Wizer Block cranes in downtown Lake Oswego


REVIEW PHOTO: ANTHONY MACUK - An 'assist crane' holds up the counter-jib of the Wizer Block's 212-foot-tall tower crane while crews work to disconnect it Tuesday. The vertical tower and its cab were the last pieces to be removed.

REVIEW PHOTO: ANTHONY MACUK – An ‘assist crane’ holds up the counter-jib of the Wizer Block’s 212-foot-tall tower crane while crews work to disconnect it Tuesday. The vertical tower and its cab were the last pieces to be removed.

REVIEW PHOTO: ANTHONY MACUK - Crews spent Monday assembling an 'assist crane' in front of Peet's Coffee on First Street in Lake Oswego and part of Wednesday taking it apart again. In between, they removed the 212-foot-tall tower crane that had stood at First Street and A Avenue for months.

REVIEW PHOTO: ANTHONY MACUK – Crews spent Monday assembling an ‘assist crane’ in front of Peet’s Coffee on First Street in Lake Oswego and part of Wednesday taking it apart again. In between, they removed the 212-foot-tall tower crane that had stood at First Street and A Avenue for months.

Crews spent most of Tuesday dismantling the tallest of two tower cranes on the Wizer Block construction site in downtown Lake Oswego.

A mobile “assist crane” was set up on First Street on Monday, clearing the way for the removal of the 212-foot-tall crane that has towered over the mixed use project at First Street and A Avenue for months.

The process began with the removal of the counterweights behind the cab, followed by the main “jib” arm of the crane. At around 10:30 a.m., crews lowered the counter-jib arm, leaving only the tower portion and its empty cab jutting toward the sky.

“They can do these things in a day, typically,” Project Manager Matt Baker said Tuesday morning, and he was right: the vertical tower came down piece by piece throughout the afternoon.

The dismantled crane was the second of two that were installed on the site, but Baker said it came down first because it was used primarily to service the building along A Avenue, which has now topped out. The remaining 171-foot crane at the Wizer Block’s southwest corner serves more of a general-purpose roll, and it will remain in place until this fall.

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE  - Workers prepare the tower portion of the Wizer Block crane for dismantling Tuesday afternoon. It was the last part of the 212-foot-tall structure to come down.

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE – Workers prepare the tower portion of the Wizer Block crane for dismantling Tuesday afternoon. It was the last part of the 212-foot-tall structure to come down.

“The (other) one serves most of the rest of the site due to its reach,” Baker said. “It covers two of the buildings and the courtyard, and it takes all our deliveries on Second Street.”

Both lanes of First Street were closed during the dismantling process, although the south end of the street remained open for access from Evergreen Road into Lake View Village. Drivers were forced to follow detour signs posted along A Avenue to alternate routes in the downtown area.

That was expected to change on Wednesday, though; First Street was scheduled to reopen once workers finished disassembling the “assist crane” and trucked it away.

Meanwhile, work continues inside and outside the Wizer Block’s three buildings. Roofers, framers, masons, elevator installers and other craftsmen all are onsite, and developer Patrick Kessi says he now expects the Wizer Block’s first residents to begin moving into their new abodes in the first quarter of 2018.

When it is completed, the mixed-use development will include 200 residential units, almost 43,000 square feet of commercial space and parking for 430 cars, of which 135 spaces will be for public parking.

Contact Lake Oswego Review reporter Anthony Macuk at 503-636-1281 ext. 108 or amacuk@lakeoswegoreview.com.

REVIEW PHOTO: ANTHONY MACUK - The main jib arm of the Wizer Block's 212-foot-tall tower crane was disassembled in segments that were then loaded in pairs onto a series of trucks parked on First Street.

REVIEW PHOTO: ANTHONY MACUK – The main jib arm of the Wizer Block’s 212-foot-tall tower crane was disassembled in segments that were then loaded in pairs onto a series of trucks parked on First Street.

REVIEW PHOTO: ANTHONY MACUK - Once the counter-jib was lowered to the street, it was disassembled into smaller pieces that were then stacked on a truck for removal.

REVIEW PHOTO: ANTHONY MACUK – Once the counter-jib was lowered to the street, it was disassembled into smaller pieces that were then stacked on a truck for removal.

REVIEW PHOTO: ALVARO FONTAN  - Before it was dismantled, the 212-foot-tall crane that towered over the Wizer Block's northeast corner offered stunning views of downtown, Oswego Lake and beyond.
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A TALL TALE

Article by Anthony Macuk.  Originally publish online at The Lake Oswego Review 5/11/17.  

Lake Oswego’s Wizer Block construction project is about to hit another milestone: the removal of one of the two tall cranes that tower over the mixed-use development. But before that happens later this month, developer Patrick Kessi invited two groups of City officials and other dignitaries to climb one of the cranes for a scenic view of downtown.

On Tuesday afternoon, the two groups climbed to the top of the 171-foot-tall crane in the center of the site. Technically, it’s the shorter of the two — the other crane is 212 feet tall — but for the intrepid group of climbers, 171 feet was plenty.

The climb took about six minutes per person and about 12 minutes for an entire group to reach the top, because only one person was allowed on each section of ladder at a time. After taking a few minutes to enjoy the views, each group got to hang on while the crane operator performed a 360-degree spin. The rotation speed might have seemed quite fast when viewed from the ground, but for the climbers at the top near the center, it was a steady and gentle ride.

REVIEW PHOTO: ANTHONY MACUK - Lake Oswego Assistant Fire Chief Dave Morris was among the folks who made the climb Tuesday up a 171-foot-tall crane at the Wizer Block, along with City Plans Examiner Elizabeth Bunga, Assistant City Manager Megan Phelan and City Structural Inspector George Harper.

REVIEW PHOTO: ANTHONY MACUK – Lake Oswego Assistant Fire Chief Dave Morris was among the folks who made the climb Tuesday up a 171-foot-tall crane at the Wizer Block, along with City Plans Examiner Elizabeth Bunga, Assistant City Manager Megan Phelan and City Structural Inspector George Harper.

The taller crane at the corner of A Avenue and First Street is scheduled to be removed in a multi-day process that will begin on Monday, May 22. Both lanes of First Street will be closed May 22-24, but the south end of the street will remain open to give visitors access to the Lake View Village parking garage via Evergreen Road. Flaggers will be present during the day to direct traffic, and the street will remain closed overnight.

The work is expected to be completed by the end of the day on Wednesday, May 24, unless high winds or other inclement weather slow the process down. In any case, officials said any extension of the street closures will not last beyond Friday, May 26.

“This is another important and exciting milestone on Block 137,” Kessi said on Tuesday. “The ‘going vertical’ stage is done. Now it’s on to the exterior facade work, which will give the buildings their texture and character, and the inside detail finishes which will produce high quality residences.”

When it’s completed in early 2018, the Wizer Block will include 200 residential units, almost 43,000 square feet of commercial space and parking for 430 cars, of which 135 spaces will be for public parking. Kessi says that a waiting list for the apartments contains more than 300 names.

Contact Lake Oswego Review reporter Anthony Macuk at 503-636-1281 ext. 108 or amacuk@lakeoswegoreview.com.

REVIEW PHOTO: ANTHONY MACUK - Heres the view from inside the crane operator's cab. Participants in Tuesday's ascent had to climb through the cab to reach the platform on top.

REVIEW PHOTO: ANTHONY MACUK – Heres the view from inside the crane operator’s cab. Participants in Tuesday’s ascent had to climb through the cab to reach the platform on top.

REVIEW PHOTO: ANTHONY MACUK - The 171-foot-tall crane extends down through the building at the southwestern corner of the Wizer Block, all the way to the ground beneath the underground garage.
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It’s all Steel and Concrete

Written by Anthony Macuk.  Originally published in the Lake Oswego Review – 6/30/16.

“In a nutshell, we dug a gigantic hole, shored it, and now we’re bringing it back up.”

That’s how Ryan Browne, one of two project superintendents, describes the last eight months of construction on the Wizer Block in downtown Lake Oswego. Redevelopment of the area at the corner of First Street and A Avenue — known officially as Block 137 — is scheduled to be completed in late 2017 and will add three new mixed-use buildings on the site.

The new buildings will provide just under 43,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground level and 200 apartments above. A two-floor garage will sit under the buildings, providing 430 parking spaces, of which 135 will be for public parking.

At the moment, only one of the three new buildings has risen high enough to be seen from behind the black-cloth fencing that surrounds the site. The most visible parts of the development are still the two 171-foot-tall tower cranes that stand above the block. But down at the garage level in the middle of the worksite, all three buildings have begun to take shape.

“We’re really just in this phase of structure work,” says Browne, who works for Lease Crutcher Lewis, the project’s general contractor, “where it’s all steel and concrete.”

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - A construction worker helps assemble the temporary platform that will hold up the concrete for the second floor while it hardens.

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE – A construction worker helps assemble the temporary platform that will hold up the concrete for the second floor while it hardens.

Buildings A and C, located along the east side of the block and in its southwest corner respectively, will share a two-story underground parking garage. The garage floors are still under construction for building A, but crews have already finished the garage levels and ground floor of building C and are currently preparing to pour concrete for the structure’s second floor.

That’s the most visible part of the structure to see from outside the site — the metal poles and platform on the east side of the block are the formwork that will allow crews to pour the concrete for the second floor. Once the concrete hardens, the formwork can be pulled out and the floor will stand on the main support columns.

“It’s 28 days for full strength on concrete,” says Browne.

The wait time is long, but the actual pouring process takes just a few hours for each of the three sections of one of the building’s floors. The wet concrete is pumped from trucks at the edge of the site to a green crane arm with a hose attached. The upcoming concrete pour for the 21,000-square-foot second floor of building C will require approximately 18 cement trucks.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: ALVARO FONTAN - From the air, you can see all three footprints of the buildings going up in the Wizer block.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: ALVARO FONTAN – From the air, you can see all three footprints of the buildings going up in the Wizer block.

Browne says the project has been proceeding without any major challenges, although he says the team did run into some large rocky material when digging out the site. The project impact was minimal, but the area requires a bit more backfill now than what was originally anticipated.

“We had an abundance of large boulders on site,” he says. “We expected some, but we found a lot. A couple of them were the size of a small Fiat or a Volkswagen.”

Lake Oswego endured a particularly wet and rainy winter season this year, but Browne says the rain didn’t have a huge impact on the pace of construction — although it did mean the crew had to deal with a lot of mud. At this stage of the project, Browne says, lightning or high wind conditions tend to be more of a problem than rain, because they can force the crew to shut down the tower cranes.

“Rain, especially in Oregon, you work through,” he says.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: ALVARO FONTAN - An aerial drone takes a bird's eye view of the Wizer block.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: ALVARO FONTAN – An aerial drone takes a bird’s eye view of the Wizer block.

Still, all of the extraction work was completed by the end of 2015 and the crew switched from digging to building at the beginning of January. Browne says the concrete work is about 25 percent complete, and the project is about a third of the way into its overall timeline.

“We’re in the structure phase of the project,” he says. “Then we put on a roof and start (exterior walls).”

In the immediate future, Browne says residents can expect to see numerous cement mixer trucks entering and leaving the site as the crews continue to pour concrete. Once the crews move on to building the roof and walls, there will also be scaffolding around the perimeter of the site.

“There’s a logistical challenge here just based on the amount of traffic and pedestrians — we’ve got a city on all four sides of us that’s continuing to operate,” he says. “We’re always doing our best to try to be a good neighbor.”

Those efforts include trying to stick to the designated work hours and scheduling trucks and other deliveries to avoid blocking traffic, and Browne says public feedback shows that residents appreciate the effort. He says the team knows that the project was a large source of controversy when it was still in the planning stages, so the positive reception during construction is a relief.

“We’ve had some complaints, but the feedback from the public has been overwhelmingly positive,” he says. “There were some concerns about how much pushback we’d get, (so) it’s rewarding for us, and the guys like the hear it too.”

Contact Anthony Mack.  

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