A decade of failed attempts to place some kind of building around the Evergreen parking garage in downtown Medford has finally been overcome.
The Medford City Council and the Medford Urban Renewal Agency struck a deal Thursday night with three corporations that want to build a $9 million, four-story office complex at West Main, Eighth and Fir streets.
"This has been an urban renewal dream for several years," Councilman Chris Corcoran said. "This is certainly a huge compliment to what Lithia has done in The Commons."
The downtown will now have a large corporate footprint with the Lithia headquarters completed on the north side of Main Street, and the new 105,000-square-foot office building planned for the south side next to the railroad tracks.
The city will sign a 30-page agreement with Pacific Retirement Services, Procare Software and Rogue Disposal and Recycling to build the office complex, which could have a restaurant and other retail outlets on the first floor.
As part of the agreement, the three corporations will take over 75 percent of the Evergreen parking garage, which is of concern to Rogue Community College students.
"We're just getting pushed out," said Bonnie Ryan, who works at RCC.
She parks in Evergreen and said students are finding it increasingly difficult to find parking in the downtown.
Ryan said she supports redevelopment but encouraged the council to consider some kind of parking solution for RCC and Southern Oregon University.
"Personally, I feel RCC and SOU need to share in the responsibility," Corcoran said.
"They don't have any money," Ryan said.
Corcoran said the city could ultimately sell the Evergreen parking garage and use the proceeds to build another parking garage elsewhere in the downtown.
Under the agreement, the three corporations would get the first shot at purchasing the garage.
Brian McLemore. PRS president and chief executive officer, said it will take the three companies about 30 days to create a separate corporation that will be formed to undertake the building of the office complex.
Once the design of the new building is completed, the new corporation would seek a loan for the project, possibly sometime after the first of the year. McLemore said he's already been approached by several local lending institutions.
McLemore expects construction to begin in the spring of 2013 with completion in fall 2014.
MURA will provide $2 million toward the project in addition to providing 200 spaces in the parking garage and leasing another 100 spaces.
The Evergreen, which cost $10.2 million, has 395 parking spaces.
In the early 2000s, the city proposed a six-story combined retail, office and residential project known as the Winetrout Building, which ran into legal problems and was shelved in 2002.
In 2005, plans were announced for a public-private partnership on the site, with a residential and retail complex to be built on three sides of the Evergreen garage.
The parking structure was completed in 2006, but by 2008 the Bella Vita project was dead, in part because of disputes over prevailing wage issues. With the economy also in a tailspin, the developer pulled out.
Under the new agreement, the three companies will be required to pay prevailing wages.
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.