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Medford is poised for a major transformation

Like a newborn baby just a few weeks old, Medford is poised for a growth spurt. The city is hardly an infant, but the analogy is apt as we emerge from two years of pandemic hibernation. The construction industry is revitalized, and new housing projects are sprouting everywhere you look.

In a story on today’s front page, Reporter Damian Mann details plans to add 1,000 new housing units over the next few years, many of them in the city’s core, which has been waiting far too long for people to begin living downtown in significant numbers. In addition to a 62-unit project at South Holly and Eighth streets, motel rooms are slated to become studio apartments, and the top floor of the former Palace Hotel has been proposed as the site of 50 apartment units.

A large low-income apartment project is applying for federal and state funding to build 115 units on Central Avenue. The Northgate Marketplace will get new neighbors if a proposed 400-unit complex wins approval.

New housing is desperately needed to help replace what was lost in the Almeda fire and bolster the valley’s inadequate stock of rental units. But that’s not the only development in the works.

The Rogue Valley Transportation District expects to need a 60-bus fleet by 2040, so it is expanding its facilities on Crater Lake Avenue and planning to create a pedestrian and transit mall at the Front Street bus station.

A Mariott hotel with 110 rooms is slated for Fourth Street across from Pear Blossom Park, offering quality lodging in the heart of downtown.

Those downtown residents and Mariott guests can walk to events at the Craterian Theater, as well as the Holly, which is gearing up for the final push to restore that historic venue.

Rogue Community College is selling its main downtown building, which has been seismically retrofitted and would be a prime location for any number of new uses.

After languishing for too long, Medford is ready to embrace the future, both by planning to accommodate growth and by working to encourage it. Combine that with the recovery of Phoenix and Talent, and the future looks bright indeed.

Let the Rogue Valley’s renaissance begin.