A Palletable idea
Pallet Wine owner Linda Donovan has big plans for another business that will add new life to a forgotten corner of west Medford by turning it into a food and wine center.
Donovan is awaiting a decision by Medford officials on her request for an unused portion of land between Pallet Wine on Fir Street, near Fourth Street, and the railroad tracks.
According to documents filed with the city, Donovan plans to create a food-truck court adjacent to Pallet, which handles winemaking for many local vineyards and operates a tasting room open to the public.
The City Council Thursday will consider her request for a 50-foot-wide by 300-foot-long vacant field. The city has a right-of-way across the property for a possible road.
Donovan said she didn't want to discuss details about her plans at this point, noting they haven't been fleshed out yet.
"We will not announce it until after the council meeting on the 15th," she said.
Donovan also purchased a half-acre lot next to Pallet last year.
The City Council has been reviewing Donovan's request for months, and it hasn't been endorsed by everyone who's reviewed it.
Dave McFadden, a member of the Medford Planning Commission, said he was surprised the idea was supported by both Public Works and the Medford Urban Renewal Agency.
He said the city has spent lots of money improving Evergreen Way from 10th to Fourth streets, improving the look of the downtown and adding more parking.
Giving the right-of-way to Donovan would prevent extending the roadway to Jackson Street in the future, he said.
"Once the roadway is vacated, the city will never get it back," McFadden wrote in a Jan. 11 email to Public Works.
McFadden said he disqualified himself from taking part in a hearing on Donovan's request because of his position on the Planning Commission.
Another issue raised by the city is the future ownership of the property if Donovan were no longer involved in the business. According to planning staff, a 25-foot-wide swath of Evergreen would belong to Pallet, and the other 25-foot-wide swath would belong to the railroad. Planning staff are still working on clarifying the ownership issue prior to the council meeting.
Neighboring property owners sent in letters of support for Donovan's proposal.
If approved, the extra land would continue the growth around Pallet.
The custom crush operation expanded in 2014 to include an adjacent 10,000-square-foot building in addition to the preexisting 340 N. Fir St. quarters in the Cooley-Neff building.
Pallet then opened an urban tasting room that shows off wines from some of the local vineyards that use the facility to produce their own bottles.
The demand for Pallet's equipment and wine-making abilities has expanded as the number of vineyards increased.
Dan Sullivan of Pallet Wine said it would be advantageous to have the extra space available and could be used for outdoor seating, though plans haven't been firmed up yet until the city signs off.
"It’s an area that’s just not being used," he said.