Visitors to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Medford District headquarters beginning Jan. 8 will find the old entrance closed.

Visitors to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Medford District headquarters beginning Jan. 8 will find the old entrance closed.

But there will be a new main entrance some 200 feet south. The change is part of the BLM's efforts to reconfigure the building in preparation for the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest employees' move to the BLM from the forest supervisor's office in Medford.

About 75 forest employees will join some 150 BLM employees at the facility when the project is completed this spring. In addition to reconfiguring the 42,000-square-foot structure built in 1979, the work calls for adding about 7,000 square feet to the existing building at 3040 Biddle Road in Medford.

"When we get everybody all together, it will save money for both sides and provide one-stop-shopping for the public," explained Jim Whittington, spokesman for the BLM district.

Officials have estimated the move should save the two agencies about $800,000 each year.

The forest supervisor's office is now in the same building occupied by the Medford post office.

"This will provide an opportunity for us to share in some of the administrative activities," said Eric Hodnett, the forest's administrative officer. "For instance, the front desk will be shared by the BLM and forest employees."

Most of the cost for the renovation and expansion is being funded by the U.S. Forest Service's sale last year of its 5.23-acre parcel at 1319 E. McAndrews Road. The parcel sold for about $4.5 million. Cost of the renovation/expansion was not immediately available Wednesday.

In 1998, Congress approved plans to sell the property and relocate the forest headquarters to the BLM site. In addition to cutting costs, the move will improve services and promote collaboration between the two agencies, officials said.

The primary contractor is Adroit Construction Co. of Ashland.

Most of the BLM staff moved in mid-December into 15 trailers pulled into the headquarter's parking lot. The trailers will serve as workplaces until the construction is completed this spring.

"For the remodel, the biggest challenge has been finding space for all the employees to go to so we can still be productive," said Jon Hall, the BLM's zone engineer for the Medford and Lakeview districts. "We tried to find a building downtown but there wasn't any place big enough for all of them."

Workers on Wednesday were removing the electrical wiring in preparation for new cubicle partitions that will be installed on the second floor of the existing building. Crews also will replace the carpet, upgrade the lighting and install some conference rooms, Hall added.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at pfattig@mailtribune.com.