A building confidence

Commercial projects are driving a construction resurgence in Medford
Construction equipment is shown in front of Walmart on Crater Lake Highway on Friday afternoon. The $6.1 million remodel project is part of a recent uptick in commercial construction.Mail Tribune / Julia Moore

Propelled by commercial construction, the city of Medford saw as much building activity in 2012-13 as it did in the previous two fiscal years combined.

So far this fiscal year, building permits have been issued or will be issued before the end of June for $250 million in projects throughout Medford, including the $6.1 million remodel of the Walmart store on Highway 62.

Building by the numbers

The three biggest projects to receive building permits over the past fiscal year in Medford:

  • Walmart remodel on Highway 62: $6.1 million
  • Jackson County Jail remodel: $2.1 million
  • Texas Roadhouse: $1.1 million

During the previous two fiscal years combined, the Building Department issued permits for projects totaling $254 million.

"We've issued a fewer number of permits, but the ones we have issued are for bigger projects," said Chris Reising, city building director.

The number of big projects doesn't seem to be dwindling. In the works are the new Jackson County Health Services building on West Eighth Street, a project that will cost about $27 million.

A new office complex known as One West Main could start in July.

The building, which surrounds the Evergreen parking garage in downtown Medford, will house Pacific Retirement Services, Procare Software and Rogue Disposal and Recycling.

The $8.3 million, four-story corporate office complex is located at the junction of West Main, Fir and Eighth streets.

The uptick in commercial construction hasn't carried over into single-family residential building — at least not at the levels seen in the 1990s or early 2000s.

In March, the Building Department issued 33 permits for residential construction. The number dropped to about 20 in April and May. So far this month, no permits have been issued for single-family houses, though Reising expects to see some before the end of the month.

In the boom years, the Building Department received 50 to 60 permit requests a month.

Reising said apartment complexes have been an active sector even during the recession, with the Charles Point area in south Medford west of Interstate 5 remaining one of the busiest areas for construction in the city.

Remodeling also has picked up over the past year, Reising said.

Despite the overall uptick, the amount of revenue received by the city from permits has remained relatively flat because the number of projects hasn't picked up significantly, Reising said.

Bob Mayers, chief executive officer of Adroit Construction of Ashland, said his company is noticing improvement.

"Overall, we're seeing an uptick," he said, noting the company has a backlog of jobs well into 2014. In the past two months, 35 new employees have been hired.

"Our backlog is as strong as it's ever been," he said.

His company is building the Cherry Creek Apartments for the Jackson County Housing Authority, a project that will total $5.5 million.

Adroit has been remodeling the Jackson County Jail, valued at $2.1 million, making it the second-largest single job in the current fiscal year in Medford.

Adroit, which has undertaken the $32 million student housing project for Southern Oregon University, recently landed another $40 million, five-story student housing project in Eugene.

Other projects in Grants Pass and a remodel of the Lithia Toyota dealership in Medford also are lined up, Mayers said.

"For the moment, we're happy," he added.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com.

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