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Demand boosts plans for $6.5 million complex

While Medford housing construction has slowly rebounded from the Great Recession, apartment projects have been virtually AWOL.

Aside from completion of Charles Point and the revival of long-delayed West Main Estates by Chuck and Milo Smith, and subsidized public housing projects, apartment complexes have simmered on the back burner much of the past decade.

That's about to change, with developer Terry Buntin of Buntin Construction proposing a 44-unit complex east of the Church of God, 2000 Crater Lake Avenue. Buntin proposes two- and three-bedroom apartments, ranging from 1,300 to 1,500 square feet with attached garages on a field once used for community softball games.

"I think the demand for apartments has been increasing," Buntin said. "The location is close to everything really, very centralized. The timing's correct, and it's going to be a really nice project."

The city's Site Plan and Architectural Commission will consider the $6.5 million, 57,000-square-foot development at its Friday meeting.

"We just have not seen a lot of multifamily activity," said Kelly Akin, a senior planner at City Hall. "The Housing Authority (of Jackson County) has really been the only other active applicant in the last five or six years. But it's all market-driven."

The most recent figures from the Southern Oregon Rental Owners Association peg the region's vacancy rate about 2 percent, ensuring demand.

Buntin has built about 400 units at more than a half-dozen sites. His most recent development was Coker Butte Estates, in 2001-02. His first multifamily project was the second phase of Sunburst Village along Roberts Road in 1987. The Church of God sold the land to a developer for $1.2 million in 2006, according to county property records, but wound up taking the property back during the recession.

While single-family housing developers sometimes let permits expire for financial reasons, multifamily projects are generally completed once approved, Akin said.

"They get their funding ducks in a row, and once they're approved, they're building," she said. "With this location, people won't have their back door opening on five lanes of traffic."

Units will face outward from a common courtyard at the center of the property. Buntin anticipates construction will begin in November with completion July 2016.

Each unit will have a 275-square-foot attached garage.

"Generally speaking, it's very rare for apartments to all have attached garages," he said. "It adds to the security, and I think that's why the consumer wants it."

 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/EconomicEdge.

A 44-unit, $6.5 million apartment complex is planned for a site just off Crater Lake Avenue in northeast Medford. Drawing from Ron Grimes Architects