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Business Q&A -- Eric Iverson

Q&A appears Mondays on the Mail Tribune's business page. It provides local leaders a venue to address timely issues in the business community.

Q: Construction activity seems to be picking up downtown. Can you give us an update on Medford Urban Renewal Agency's revitalization projects?

Winetrout is probably the most tricky one. It still has some time to go, obviously. As you can see, demolition is complete. The site's been cleared ... and is ready. We just put out the RFQ (request for qualifications) and we're in the middle of that process.

Winetrout is designed to be a multi-use site with office and retail (space) located between Main and Eighth, and the railroad tracks and Fir. In the future, that will be followed up by secondary buildings which would be residential/retail mix. And then, tucked into the middle of the block, is where you'll have the parking structure.

The library is a great project, too. It's really a destination point, which brings people downtown. It's tripling in size from its present location. This is also the first (library) in the state that's going to be a community college plus public library. It's going to get people down in the area for a greater period of time. It's an activity generator. People come down to go to the library and at the same time have lunch.

The library project is still in the design phase. The designers are Fletcher, Farr & Ayotte, of Portland.

Another one of our roles is that, after the library is complete, we're going to come in and finish up that whole block, providing the streetscape all the way around the library.

Q: What's going on right now with the Central Avenue streetscape project?

A: Right now, most of the activity is going on between Ninth and 10th. They started construction about two weeks ago. They're going to be done with the parking on Ninth and 10th first. They're beginning to trench to put the utilities underground, so that will look great once that gets finished. LTM is the general (contractor) on that.

Q: Are there cost estimates yet for the Winetrout project?

A: Not yet. That'll depend on when we get a developer. All we're going to build, as far as MURA, is the parking structure. The rest will be private.

Almost everything we do is intended to be a public and private partnership. If we just took the dollars we get and spent them purely on public things, it's not going to have as much impact.

All three of the projects, the library, Central Avenue streetscape, and Winetrout are really just big, new projects happening in downtown. That's the exciting thing. Something that could have such a positive impact is just on the horizon. It's not there yet. We're on the verge of one of the most exciting times in downtown Medford since 1910-1920 when there was a lot of building activity, a lot of new things.

That's pretty much the mission of MURA, to revitalize downtown. The most important aspect to that is people. In a downtown environment, that means pedestrians.

To suggest a subject for this column, please contact reporter Shari Downhill at 776-4463 or e-mail sdownhill@mailtribune.com