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MailTribune.com
  • MURA to discuss 'Skybox' housing proposal

  • An elevated housing project that would be built over a parking lot on Central Avenue could get a lift this week from the Medford Urban Renewal Agency.
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  • An elevated housing project that would be built over a parking lot on Central Avenue could get a lift this week from the Medford Urban Renewal Agency.
    At a noon Thursday meeting at City Hall, the MURA board will consider approving an agreement for a 90-day negotiation period with the developers of the project, which has been named "Skybox."
    "We're hoping that everything is resolved in the next 30 days," said Allan Sandler, an Ashland developer involved in the project.
    He said much of the legwork has been completed to get the $2.75-million project moving forward with the city. City staff recommended the MURA board approve the three-page letter of intent.
    Within 90 days, a development agreement will be drafted and brought back to the MURA board for approval.
    Sandler's company, Siskiyou-Bellview LLC, and Oregon Architecture have proposed building a 25-unit apartment complex above an existing parking lot at the northwest corner of Central Avenue and 10th Street, immediately west of the Medford library. While it would mostly be a one-story structure, that story would sit above the parking lot, the majority of which would not be enclosed by walls.
    "The design is beautiful, but the actual construction is straightforward," Sandler said. "It's not rocket science."
    City officials have so far endorsed the idea, noting it preserves most of the parking lot for public use while paving the way for much-needed downtown residential units.
    Sandler, who has developed other projects in Ashland, said if everything goes as planned, construction should begin next summer so that students at nearby Rogue Community College are not inconvenienced. The parking lot would need to be closed off for about three months during the initial phase of construction.
    The parking lot now has 75 spaces, but the developer would increase that amount to 85 by removing planters. Under the proposal, the agreement would allow one parking space for each unit, resulting in a net loss of 15 public parking spaces.
    On the ground floor, stairs, a lobby, an elevator and a trash receptacle area would be built on the existing parking lot.
    The second story, which would be 12 feet above the parking lot, would contain a courtyard and the residential units.
    Property taxes are not collected on the parking lot because it is government owned, but Sandler said the residential units would be subject to taxation.
    Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com.
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