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MailTribune.com
  • Developers seek to fill new downtown office space

    As new office building goes up, developers are optimistic they can find tenants — and fix the perception of downtown Medford
  • If you build it, they will come — and maybe sign on the dotted line.
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  • If you build it, they will come — and maybe sign on the dotted line.
    Attracting retail tenants to an office building in downtown Medford has its challenges, whether it's the nearly two-year-old Lithia headquarters or the One West Main building due for completion before Labor Day.
    While Lithia has filled some of its available space, One West Main is just launching its effort to find tenants for vacant slots.
    "It's a situation where people want to feel and touch and see how it looks when it gets finished," said Pacific Retirement Services CEO Brian McLemore, whose front office operations will be consolidated into the third floor of One West Main. "There are a lot of opportunities downtown and things will ramp up when people see what it looks like. We're looking for a particular kind of tenant as well to make sure it's the right fit."
    Rogue Disposal will occupy 12,000 of the 17,000 square feet in the top floor, reserving the rest for future growth. PRS will collect much of its headquarters staff into the 30,000-square-foot third floor, while leasing out about 4,000 square feet, McLemore said. Procare Software will take up half of the 30,000-square-foot second floor and is negotiating with potential additional tenants.
    The building will front on Main Street with the corner of Main and South Fir streets being reserved as a prime retail location.
    McLemore said retailers and restaurateurs will respond once One West Main and the nearby Jackson County health services building open.
    "When they see 600 new bodies circulating in that neighborhood," he said, "I think they will realize the impact it's making — a place where there are a lot of professionals working and enjoying the benefits of downtown."
    Rogue Disposal CEO Stephen Gambee said potential tenants and third-party associates have approached the development partners informally, but nothing has germinated from such discussions. Tom Fischer and John Hamlin of Coldwell Banker Commercial NW have been hired to acquire tenants.
    "We probably should've got on this sooner," Gambee said. "We realized we were three busy guys — too busy to get it done ourselves. This way there will be someone all the time working on this space."
    Gambee said the ground level space for One West Main was designed with a restaurant in mind and suggested financial services, banking or a salon as logical tenants.
    A few blocks to the northeast, Lithia Motor's headquarters building anticipates the opening of both Starbucks Coffee and Anytime Fitness this month.
    Spaces of 2,800 square feet and 600 square feet remain available, Mark DeBoer, the head of Lithia's real estate department said.
    The challenge remains to overcome long-standing perceptions.
    "For so many years, people deserted the downtown, so the perception is almost bigger than price," DeBoer said.
    Parking availability is an oft-repeated complaint, but it shouldn't matter, he said.
    "Every successful downtown has parking constraints, that's a good thing," DeBoer said. "We're so spoiled with the suburban parking where you can park right in front of a retail store. In metro areas people are used to walking a block or two; we're not."
    DeBoer said high-end office space continues to attract tenants.
    "We're contemplating another building here, because there is a need for additional leasable space," he said. "I wish I had another floor or two of Class A, LEED-certified office space, I could have leased it.
    "Retail is a little more challenging though," he said. "Whether it's a local or national tenant, the perception hasn't been real positive. We have to take the employment counts and college (nearby Rogue Community College) and really sell it."
    Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregMTBusiness, friend him on Facebook and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.
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