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Alley offers limbo location

Retail stores need business address

Business is trying to take root on Medford's street with no name.

The owners of Inside-Out Home & Garden are trying to plant their business on the alleyway that runs in front of the downtown parking garage. The shop opens Friday but still doesn't have a street address because the alley it faces is nameless.

It's making us nuts, says co-owner Danny Clay, noting that the business has been using the garage's address of 314 E. Sixth St. for the time being.

Clay says being easy to find is crucial for a new retail store and not having an address will likely make that more difficult.

On all of our advertising we are trying to use the south side of the parking structure, he says. It's been a hassle.

An effort is under way to name the cobblestone-covered street Middleford Alley. The name recalls how Medford got its name from being situated at the middle ford of Bear Creek.

Historically, the city hasn't allowed the naming of alleys.

But Scott Henselman, who works with the Heart of Medford Association and is the real estate agent in charge of leasing space in the garage, is leading an effort to change that. Henselman says he has met with Medford Urban Renewal Agency and city officials and worked out a process for naming alleys in the downtown business district.

The plan is awaiting approval, and Henselman said it may have to go to the Medford City Council. City officials reviewing the plan couldn't be reached Tuesday.

Henselman says naming such alleys is important, first because it will help emergency crews _ such as police or firefighters _ find the businesses whose main entrances face alleys.

The second thing is to give an identity to an improved area, he says.

Business owners and landlords with entrances that face the alley have made improvements, from flower boxes to wood-framed windows and doors. And Jim Burt, MURA's director, says the transformation is what the downtown needs.

That's what we are looking at our alleys becoming is pedestrian areas, he says.

City officials have had some concerns about naming alleys and insisted on some guidelines, Henselman says. For example, the name must be two words long, the second of which must be alley. Also, any name already being used in the same emergency service district can't be used. That will avoid confusion for dispatchers and police.

Those rules eliminated one early suggestion for the alley along the parking garage: Bartlett Way or Bartlett Alley. Some merchants liked those suggestions because they would give people a clear idea of where the alley is.

But just about any name would be welcome, Clay says. His store is just east of where Bartlett Street comes into the south side of the garage.

A lot of people aren't familiar with exactly where it is, he says. It'll make things a whole lot simpler when we can give them an address.

The alley between Main and Sixth streets, along the south side of the downtown parking garage, is suffering an identity crisis. Downtown merchants and urban renewal officials hope to give it a name soon: Middleford Alley. - Photo by Bob Pennell