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Retail, residential package deal sought in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE - The city has nearly completed negotiations with the owner of a 3.3-acre lot earmarked for a "cottage industry" building near downtown.

Jacksonville and Medford resident Genevieve Cochran are close to reaching a purchase price agreement for the property on Highway 238 below the city's historic cemetery. The city wants a developer to put up a building that will fit into the historic nature of the city. The building might attract people who live upstairs and work downstairs, similar to setups in downtown Medford.

So far, three people have expressed interest: Chris Galpin, who developed the Eagle Point Golf Course, among other Rogue Valley projects; Dean Strellman, who owns a light manufacturing firm; and Ron Bray, a professional woodworker who builds cabinets for televisions and stereos.

The $855,000 project, including $250,000 for the cost of the land, also includes plans for 59 parking spaces, storm drains, a building pad and water and sewer connections. The site's location near the Qwest telephone building at the corner of Oregon and California streets makes it a candidate for high-speed Internet access, said Paul Wyntergreen, city administrator. The project does not include the cost of the building itself, which would be paid by the developer.

To help pay for the project, the city has been offered - but has yet to accept - a $250,000 grant and $333,500 loan from the Oregon Economic Community and Development Department (including $100,000 from Jackson County and $45,000 from Britt Festivals).

Here's a breakdown of remaining funding for the project: $166,500 from the Oregon Department of Transportation, $25,000 for engineering from the Jackson-Josephine Regional Investment Board, $62,000 from Britt and Jackson County and $18,000 from the city's sewer system development charge.

The City Council may postpone a decision about accepting the grants until after public hearings in October over a proposed urban renewal district. The district would encompass the cottage industry area and help repay the loan. Money pledged by Jackson County and Britt Festivals will also help make loan payments for the first five years of the project's life, Wyntergreen said.

Britt Festivals has an interest because the new parking would be right across the highway from the outdoor amphitheater that draws about 60,000 people to summer concerts. Jackson County owns the amphitheater on a hillside that forms a natural bowl and is only a five-minute walk from downtown Jacksonville.

The new parking lot would be closer to the Britt grounds than almost all of the other parking options in Jacksonville. It would be next to the C and D street lots, which eventually will be connected with an auto bridge. Currently, a pedestrian walkway bridges the two lots, which are free and open to the public.

Reach reporter Melissa Martin at 776-4497, or e-mail