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MURA targets an increase in parking spaces

Visitors to downtown Medford will find parking in some areas easier next year with the improvement of two existing lots.

The Medford Urban Renewal Agency, which has added about 500 parking spaces to the downtown area in its 14 years, will add more than 100 new spaces next year.

We do parking studies every couple years, said MURA's senior planner, Eric Iversen. Some spots there's sufficient parking, other spots there's needs.

With a parking lot that MURA owns on Grape Street between Fifth and Sixth streets, a parking lot behind the new Central Library and property it is considering purchasing at 201 W. Sixth St., the agency will be able to ease parking problems.

The parking design plans were approved at the MURA board meeting Tuesday.

Iversen said that parking needs change as businesses change, and that the agency, which leases spaces on a quarterly basis, often hears from businesses wanting to lease additional spaces when they hire more employees.

He said that whether for leased or timed spaces, the mission of the parking projects goes beyond just adding numbers of spaces;, it's bringing the spaces up to standard.

MURA's parking projects include creating handicap parking and making parking spaces larger, as well as putting in drainage, lighting and irrigated landscaping.

MURA owns and leases a lot on Grape and Sixth streets behind the . Parking there will grow from 66 spaces (52 off-street and 14 on-street) to 82 spaces (67 off-street and 15 on-street), including three new handicap spaces.

Construction is scheduled to run February through June, and the agency hopes to keep seven existing trees.

Meanwhile, the agency is considering purchasing the 201 W. Sixth St. property, which currently has a parking lot and a vacant building, formerly ERA Prestige Homes. The ERA building would be torn down.

MURA is in the process of having the property appraised; the Jackson County assessor's office has it valued at &

36;190,910 for the land and &

36;402,200 for the building.

The owns the adjacent gravel lot to the west, on Sixth and Holly streets, and urban renewal is discussing a possible land swap.

Publisher Grady Singletary said the newspaper is looking into either selling the gravel lot to MURA or trading it for half of the lot behind the building.

We are in negotiation but nothing as of yet has been decided, Singletary said.

In addition to the design plans for the lot behind the , the MURA board also approved plans for a 92-space lot at the intersection of 10th Street and Riverside Avenue, behind the new Central Library. The agency anticipates that these will mostly be timed, not leased, spaces. Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring.

Urban Renewal will also do the streetscapes on the block encircling the library. The project includes sidewalks, street lights, trash cans, benches, trees and tree grates on Central Avenue, Ninth Street, Riverside Avenue and 10th Street.

Reach reporter Meg Landers at 776-4481 or e-mail