• Council: Red Lion specifics look good

  • A unanimous Medford City Council reaffirmed on Monday its commitment to purchase a portion of the Red Lion Hotel after details of a multi-step deal were disclosed in an executive session.
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  • A unanimous Medford City Council reaffirmed on Monday its commitment to purchase a portion of the Red Lion Hotel after details of a multi-step deal were disclosed in an executive session.
    "I felt before that this was a good arrangement for the community," Councilor Al Densmore said.
    Densmore said he felt even more comfortable with the deal after learning more information about plans for the hotel during the executive session.
    Councilor Bob Strosser, responding to Densmore's comments, said, "It's safe to say, the rest of us needed to get to that same level of comfort."
    Details of the deal, including the price that DHD LLC is paying for the property, were not released to the public because of confidentiality concerns with the seller.
    DHD, a company run by Mark and Sid DeBoer, is trying to buy the almost 8-acre Red Lion property, which is on the market for $3.5 million.
    The DeBoers, who also are Lithia Motors executives, want to sell a less-valuable, 3.29-acre portion of the hotel property to the city for $1.6 million as part of the deal. The city would then turn its portion of the property into a parking lot.
    After Mark DeBoer presented information about the transaction in an executive session, the council agreed that $11 per square foot was a fair price.
    Councilor Dan Bunn, who wasn't present at the meeting Monday, had previously voted against the deal, fearing that the city would be embarrassed if it ended up paying more than half the cost of the Red Lion while receiving the less-valuable portion of the property.
    Councilors did not divulge whether the price they were paying for the less-valuable portion of the Red Lion property was more than the share from DHD.
    The council also referenced how its money would be leveraged toward additional private investment on the Red Lion property.
    Although many details were not released publicly, city officials disclosed they had received a commitment for future investment on the property.
    Previously, Mayor Gary Wheeler has suggested that $2 million to $3 million could be invested into the property after it's purchased.
    Mark DeBoer said that because of the sensitive nature of negotiations with various parties, he was not at liberty to discuss the deal.
    More details about the sale as well as possible plans for the hotel property could be released in the near future.
    Councilors Chris Corcoran and Karen Blair acknowledged that they previously had had discussions with Mark DeBoer before the meeting.
    The council cited a number of reasons why the purchase of the 3.29-acre portion of the Red Lion was a good deal for the city.
    The parking lot would help address an identified shortage of parking in the area.
    Cleaning up Bear Creek along the Red Lion is a goal of the city that could be realized by the purchase. A pedestrian trail on the west side of Bear Creek is another goal.
    In the future, the city wants to build a pedestrian bridge that would connect Hawthorne Park to the Red Lion property over Bear Creek.
    As part of the deal worked out with DHD, the hotel would retain the right to use up to 100 parking spaces in the city's 3.29-acre lot for up to five years.
    Wheeler said the Red Lion deal is a good fit for urban renewal dollars, which have been the catalyst for The Commons across the street from the hotel. The Commons features two parks and the Lithia headquarters.
    "After listening in executive session, this is the kind of transaction urban renewal tries to work towards," Wheeler said.
    Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com.
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