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Downtown goes uptown with design showcase

A downtown renovation project will be the focus of an interior design showcase fund-raiser.

The Acme Hardware building at — W. Sixth St. in Medford will have seven new cosmopolitan apartments available for tours in October. The project will benefit Asante Health System.

We're framing the apartments already, said Laz Ayala, a local real estate developer who bought the building in July.

The project will be the second such fund-raiser for Asante, which owns Rogue Valley Medical Center in Medford and Three Rivers Community Hospital in Grants Pass. In 2003, a similar showcase was held at Voorhies Mansion in Phoenix after 30 designers transformed rooms inside the historic 1898 home. People purchased tickets to tour the mansion and &

36;75,000 was raised.

It's a decorator show space put on by local designers, and then it's toured by the community, said Susie Penwell, of Penwell and Lowenberg Designs, event designers.

— We have 30 designers that have now signed up, she said, and 30 designers will be chosen May 9.

The money raised from the event, planned for October and early November, will help provide scholarships for students pursuing health-care careers at area colleges.

Ayala said he will also donate about 30 percent of the first year's rental income to Asante.

The Acme Hardware building was built in 1947 by developer William Heine Fluhrer with Marshall O. Bessonette as contractor. It opened as Acme Hardware that year. Pittsburg Plate Glass and Paint opened in the building's smaller storefront. The upper floor originally was a storage area, then later became a roller-skating rink and an amateur boxing gym.

It's the upper floor that is going to have four one-bedroom and three two-bedroom apartments.

Over the years the main floor has been home to many businesses, most recently the Medford Antique Mall. The main floor and basement are also undergoing renovation in preparation for leasing as commercial spaces.

Ayala said he's keeping the historic industrial feel of the upstairs. Crews have cleaned and stained the rafters, which will remain exposed, as will the ducts and pipes. The hardwood floors we have restored, he said.

Ayala said his goal is to have the apartments completed with a coat of primer on the walls this summer.

My goal is to have it done by June. Then the decorators will take it from there, he said.

The decorators will have a budget to work with, and costs beyond that they'll have to pursue as donations. Ayala has not decided how much the allowance would be.

Ayala did not give a rental price for the apartments, but said with the interior decoration, weekly housekeeping, wireless Internet and other amenities offered, they would be priced at the upper end. He has said that he's marketing them as temporary apartments for visiting corporate executives to lease and for longer-term tenants.

Randy Lindsey of All Seasons Painting applies a coat of sealer to the rafters of West Sixth Street?s old Acme Hardware building, where an interior design fund-raiser will be held. Mail Tribune / Roy Musitelli - Mail Tribune Roy Musitelli