A downtown revival
When three Rogue Valley companies announced Feb. 4 they were moving their headquarters to downtown Medford, few greeted the news as excitedly as Jeff and Vicky Wiencek.
The owners of Scrub Hub, a medical and emergency services uniform retailer, already had committed to moving their business to the southwest corner of West Main and South Fir streets.
The decision by Pacific Retirement Services, Rogue Disposal & Recycling, and Procare Software to relocate to One West Main validated the Wienceks' decision to move downtown from The Shoppes at Exit 24 months earlier.
"It's a kick-starter to get some momentum going with all that retail space coming on the ground floor," said Jeff Wiencek. "Immediately, we noticed some traffic in the (vacant) building next to ours. The fact their offices are there as well as retail will bring even more foot traffic to the area."
The twin boosts of the Lithia headquarters and The Commons project, combined with the One West Main announcement, has led to serious tire kicking downtown.
"There's definitely some of that going on," said Laz Ayala, who owns the Brenenman Building on the northeast corner of West Main and Grape streets. "With PRS coming in and Lithia Commons taking shape, it has spurred some interest from businesses that probably otherwise would not have considered downtown."
Scrub Hub spruced up an intersection largely deserted by commercial tenants the past couple of years. Between an advertising campaign, mailing list and social media, Jeff Wiencek said, the retailer has been able to transition without a hitch.
"We knew six months before our move we were coming here, so our customers were prepared in advance," he said. "When we were at The Shoppes at Exit 24, there was a banner on back of our building, giving us exposure on the highway, but it was pretty limited. We're more of a destination shop, and foot traffic has been pretty good."
The uniform shop has expanded its footwear selection and added apparel lines.
"We see people window shopping on a daily basis," said Vicky Wiencek. "They are walking by and see something in the window that grabs their attention."
Across Main Street, European Touch Spa opened last month on the other end of the block. On the northeast corner of Main and Fir, it appears the former Scan Design Furniture store may soon have a new tenant. The Bellevue, Wash., firm remains in control of the 31,420-square-foot building, and commercial agents were unable to confirm the building has been leased.
Tom Fischer of Coldwell Banker NW Commercial Real Estate said potential downtown tenants are taking a wait-and-see approach.
"People are holding off until they know for sure," Fischer said. "Once construction starts, the people who are optimistic will be fortified and the people questioning will now believe."