Cracker Barrel Old Country Store may soon join the pantheon of chain restaurants in Medford.

Developer Cris Galpin has submitted an application to the Medford Planning Department, proposing a three-building Southside Center I complex where Center Drive presently ends at Garfield Street in south Medford.

"Mainly, we were looking at their reputation and desirability," said Galpin, who has been trying to pair tenants with the location for a decade or more. "We're looking to start building this coming spring."

The 9,013-square-foot Cracker Barrel, including a large covered porch, is the largest of the three proposed buildings, which will also include an 8,880-square-foot and 8,706-square-foot multi-tenant commercial shells on a 6.5-acre parcel. Access to the shops and restaurant will be off an extension of Center Drive and likely would set off commercial efforts in surrounding areas.

"We have several spots to fill, and there are a couple of desirable names related to food use," said Galpin, adding that a second phase of similar size is in the works.

The 47-year-old Lebanon, Tenn.-based Cracker Barrel chain operates nearly 640 locations in 43 states, but until now hasn't ventured to the West Coast. The outlets are typically combined restaurant and gift shops, with menus based on traditional Southern cuisine.

"This fiscal year, we will expand the Cracker Barrel footprint through seven to eight store openings, many of which will be outside of our core market," spokesperson Breeanna Straessle said Friday. "Last year, we opened two stores in the Las Vegas market and have plans to open up to three stores in the Portland area over the next year."

Cracker Barrel will open a Tualatin location next spring and two more in Janzten Beach Center in Portland next summer.

While Straessle said the company had "no announcements to make at this time" about a Medford location, he acknowledged that an announcement would likely be forthcoming in the near future.

The commercial development on property owned by Nash Holdings is the first on the south side of the Garfield extension since the nearby freeway interchange was relocated from Barnett Road in 2009. But commercial real estate agents say more development will follow.

"It will be desirable because it's directly on the interchange as opposed to Northgate, where you have to cross a thoroughfare off the interchange," said Tom Fischer of Coldwell Banker Commercial NW real estate. "The location is much better because you can see the signage from I-5."

Coupled with the unfolding development of KOGAP's Stewart Meadows Village nearby on South Pacific Highway, Fischer said commercial tenants will be drawn to the south end of town in coming years.

"There's a lot of potential development in the south Medford area," he said. "Once Providence is up and visible, that's going to attract more people to Stewart Meadows."

Providence Medical Group has unveiled plans for a three-story, 64,000-square-foot medical office building in the Stewart Meadows development.

Dustin Severs of the city planning staff said the Southside Center application was completed this past week, and review by the Site Plan and Architectural Commission is tentatively scheduled Jan. 6.

— Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31