A sky bridge proposal that would connect a historic Medford house to a 51-unit East Main Street assisted-living center could be grounded by Medford officials.

A sky bridge proposal that would connect a historic Medford house to a 51-unit East Main Street assisted-living center could be grounded by Medford officials.

Planning staff recently recommended against the proposed bridge because it would significantly alter the east side of the 815 East Main Street house, which has been extensively remodeled over the years and was used as medical offices. The colonial revival house was designed by noted local architect Frank Clark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

"The sky walk is not compatible with the historic structure," the staff report concluded.

The Medford Landmarks and Historic Preservation Commission will hold a public hearing on the sky bridge at 5:45 p.m., Feb. 7, in Room 330 of Medford City Hall, 411 West Eight Street.

Homeowners in the Geneva-Minnesota District plan to have a meeting to discuss the proposal today. Homeowners earlier objected to a methadone clinic on East Main Street next to the proposed assisted-living center.

"We want to discuss the future of the neighborhood," said Bob Biondini, who has organized the neighbor meeting.

He said he would reserve any comment on the proposed assisted-living center.

Documents at the Medford planning department show the Frank Clark house would be converted into a 10,890-square-foot dining, kitchen and office area.

Next door, at 825 East Main Street, a low, flat-roofed building would be remodeled into a three-story craftsman-style building with 66,647 square feet, featuring 51 units.

The city is considering the sky bridge proposal at this point only because it would alter a historic house.

Planning staff determined that 220 square feet on the east wall of the house would have to be demolished to make room for the sky bridge.

The bridge, which would feature windows that are similar to the house, is a noticeable departure in style, the staff report concluded.

Alex Jauregui, who owns the complex of one-story buildings at 825 and 837 East Main, said his plans would bring back many of the original design features of the Frank Clark house, while bringing in a development that would fit the surrounding neighborhood.

"I'm trying to improve the area," said.

He said he wanted to refute rumors that he had other plans in mind.

"It's not going to be a methadone clinic," Jauregui said

As part of the project, he has been in negotiations with The Medical Eye Center, which owns the Frank Clark house.

He said he would build a wall between the assisted-living center and the building that houses the methadone clinic.

According to plans before the city, the plan proposes building a 9-foot wall between the two complexes made out of concrete blocks topped with a wrought-iron railing.

The sky bridge is needed to allow vehicles to pass under it, between the two buildings. A total of 19 parking spaces would be built for the assisted-living center, which includes nine spaces for employees.

The bridge, which would be 13 feet above the ground, would be more than 35 feet long and 15 feet wide, and would be located near the back of the house.

Kristen Hanson, director of the methadone clinic, owned by Allied Health Services, said the clinic has no plans to expand, saying the existing facility can more than adequately handle local needs.

She said she was surprised to hear of rumors from neighbors about any expansion.

"There would be no need for a three-story methadone clinic," she said. "Our growth spurt is over."

The Frank Clark house was originally built for local realtor W.H. Humphrey, but John Mann, owner of Mann's Department Store, lived in the house from the 1920s to 1950s. In the 1960s, the house was converted into medical offices.

George Kramer, a local historian, said he knows about the Frank Clark house, but wasn't familiar with the developer's proposal.

Altering historic houses, typically poses considerable challenges, Kramer said.

"Putting a sky bridge on an historic house is a pretty tough thing to do," he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or email dmann@mailtribune.com.