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Medford Center makeover

A Los Angeles-based real estate investment company has acquired the Medford Center from Kimco Realty.

A founding managing partner of LBG Real Estate said Medford Center is due for a makeover, improved security and renewed relevance.

"We've thought about renaming it — something more exciting," said Leslie Lundin. "We want to rebrand it as a lifestyle center and want to make it more festive. It's got the cinema, Rogue Air and the fitness center. We want to capitalize on the energy already there and create an environment where people want to linger.

"We're putting a business plan together right now," Lundin said. "We're working on new signage right away. We'll renovate the facade so we can bring it up to a Class A center. There should be a lot of changes in the next few months. With the weather and the time it takes for architecture and engineering, we probably won't start major renovation until next spring."

The shopping center encompasses more than 30 acres between Jackson and Spring streets and Biddle Road and Crater Lake Avenue.

After going through a major makeover in the 1990s, the 420,000-square-foot center has seen some major tenants depart and the loss of some longtime retailers when leases expired. Kimco acquired Medford Center from Pan Pacific Retail Properties Inc. eight years ago as part of a $4.1 billion transaction, picking up 138 operating properties with a general leasing area of 19.9 million square feet in four Western states.

The last listed sales price for Medford Center was $7.1 million in 1994. The transaction price was not announced. However, it reached well into the seven-figure mark.

Local real estate brokers privately suggested New York-based Kimco Realty failed to understand Southern Oregon's economics, forcing tenants to pay rates their businesses couldn't support.

Lundin said Tuesday the Medford Center is 86 percent occupied.

"I could see why if they had difficultly with rents if the center wasn't well-maintained, and tenants need to be around other tenants," she said.

LBG Real Estate was launched in 2009 and this is the firm's first incursion into Oregon. It operates commercial centers in Southern California, Nevada and Utah. 

"We're very hands-on when it comes to leasing our projects," said Zach Sussman, the firm's leasing director.

LBG intends to redevelop the promenade between Tinseltown and International Fitness, creating additional shops, and reconfiguring landscape and water features.

Lundin said LBG hopes to capitalize on the overhaul of Hawthorne Park — south of Jackson Street — and stage events of its own.

 "We're small, compared to Kimco," Lundin said. "I started with two partners, investing our own money. We're picky about what we get into. This is an ideal redevelopment play and perfect opportunistic buy."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31, and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.

LBG Real Estate bought the Medford Center from Kimco Realty. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell