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MailTribune.com
  • Elevated housing plan nears approval

    Medford would retain ownership of land beneath downtown Sky Park apartments
  • An on-again, off-again proposal to erect an elevated residential complex above a parking lot in downtown Medford appears ready for takeoff.
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  • An on-again, off-again proposal to erect an elevated residential complex above a parking lot in downtown Medford appears ready for takeoff.
    The Medford Urban Renewal Agency board will make a decision at 6 p.m. today on an agreement that would allow developers to build a complex known as Sky Park at 206 S. Central Ave.
    The developers would retain much of the existing parking lot by erecting a residential complex 12 feet above the ground.
    "It's an interesting concept," said Nicole May, a 25-year-old Medford graduate of Rogue Community College. "I personally wouldn't buy a condo over a parking lot."
    She said she would support the project as long as the developers can show they'd make money off it, and as long as parking remains available to college students.
    "This is one of the main parking lots for RCC," she said.
    A sticking point in the yearlong negotiations over the project has been that the MURA board wanted to retain ownership of the land, a stipulation that is now part of the agreement.
    However, under the latest agreement, the developer would buy the "air" rights for $1.
    This means the developer will own everything 12 feet above the parking lot.
    In addition, the developer will have a 50-year lease for the rights to provide footings and entrances for the building on the ground floor. The lease could be extended for another 50 years, or the developer could purchase the property at an agreed-upon price.
    If approved, construction could begin in the summer of 2015.
    The project calls for apartment-sized, one- and two-bedroom units.
    Mark McKechnie of Oregon Architecture in Medford said the plan for the residential complex calls for one- and two-story units. The development proposal previously called for just one-story units.
    He said each residence in the condominium project would be from 650 to 1,200 square feet. The price for each unit hasn't been calculated, McKechnie said.
    The cost of the project is estimated to be in excess of $2 million, funded by private dollars.
    Oregon Architecture is working with developer Allan Sandler, who has built many projects in Ashland. They have formed a corporation known as Sky Park Medford LLC.
    An open-air courtyard would be built at the center of the complex, from north to south. The courtyard would vary from 22 to 35 feet wide.
    The parking lot currently has 75 spaces but could be expanded to 85 under the proposal. About 25 of those spaces would be needed for the residences, but the number is still being worked out with the city.
    McKechnie said the residences could attract three different types of buyers. Some could be parents who buy properties for their children who are going to school and then sell the property when their children graduate, he said. Other possible customers include couples who don't have children, and empty nesters looking to downsize, he said.
    McKechnie said Medford has plenty of restaurants and will be getting more attractions in the coming years.
    Deputy City Manager Bill Hoke said he believes that many of the issues surrounding the project have been resolved.
    "The one thing we wanted to make sure about is to address the payment of property taxes," he said.
    Hoke said the developer will pay the taxes on the property, which is currently not taxed because it is owned by a government agency.
    Shiloh Harrelson, a 23-year-old Southern Oregon University student, said it would be great to have a covered parking lot to shield her car from the sun.
    However, she's not sure if she'd like living above a busy parking lot.
    "I feel bad for the people who live in it," she said. "People would be pulling in and out of the parking lot all the time."
    Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @reporterdm.
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