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Gaining financial business ground

More buildings pop up along East McAndrews

The black glass-ribbed office building that houses Jackson County Title's east Medford office is getting a twin.

It's going to look identical, says Reed Murphy, the owner and builder of both buildings. It's just twice as big.

The 19,000-square-foot building is the latest addition to an office row that has sprung up along Medford's East McAndrews Road.

The area is becoming kind of a second financial center, adds Amerititle manager Ed Jolly, noting that it is gaining ground on downtown. Amerititle moved into its new building, a multi-colored brick number, a year ago.

Stacked like manila folders in a cabinet along the north side of East McAndrews Road are Bank of Southern Oregon, KeyTitle, Bear Creek Properties, A G Edwards & Sons, Amerititle, Murphy's new building, the Jackson County Title branch office and a KeyBank branch.

And the larger area along East McAndrews and nearby Royal Avenue includes other financial companies like Klamath First Federal, Rogue Federal Credit Union and Wells Fargo, giving credence to Jolly's observation.

When the new office building is completed this winter, Jackson County Title will occupy the first two floors; Murphy says there's been interest in the third floor but no lease has been signed.

Jackson County Title will move its main offices from downtown into the new building, along with its branch next door. In all, the company will have 45 employees in the building. The company will maintain an escrow office downtown at 502 W. Main St.

Jackson County Title manager Bill Thomas says the company wanted a larger space and couldn't find the right fit downtown. The escrow office is staying downtown because the company felt it was important to keep a presence there, Thomas says.

As for the East McAndrews building Jackson County Title will be leaving, Murphy says he has two tenants lined up: one to cover the first two floors and another for the third. He declined to name the tenants. The top two floors have been vacant since software company Trilobyte closed earlier this year.

Murphy says its no surprise that heavily traveled East McAndrews has become a prime location for companies that want to stay in the public eye.

That area is the second-highest traveled in town (Barnett Road is first) so there's a lot of good curbside presence there, he says.

That is what Murphy saw a few years back when he purchased the land. At the time, houses lined that side of the street. But as traffic increased, residents became more interested in selling. Murphy spotted the commercial potential and bought their land, moving several houses elsewhere.

Now, a mixture of financial service companies and dental offices fill the space across from Providence Medford Medical Center. Only one house, the historic McAndrews family farmhouse, remains. The homeowners, Gordon and Cheryl White, couldn't be reached for comment.

Murphy says the area fills a growing need in Medford for high-quality office space.

I just knew there was a need for Class A office space, he says. Whenever you get a potential tenant from a larger metro area that's what they expect.

With that in mind, Murphy travelled to Portland, Salem and Eugene to scout out new office buildings before designing his two on East McAndrews.

John Hamlin, a commercial real estate agent with Caldwell Banker ProWest, says the area is one of several in Medford where high-quality office space is popping up. He noted that other Class A developments have been built recently off Stewart Avenue, Town Center Drive and in the Barnett Road area.

And there is the potential for a lot more, he says.

Bill Rundle of Wimer saws metal construction pieces at the construction site of one of the new financial office buildings going up along East McAndrews Road in Medford. - Photo by Jim Craven