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Downtown housing project starts next March

 A $12.5 million, 50-unit low-income residential building in downtown Medford at the corner of Sixth and Grape streets will begin construction next March, the Jackson County Housing Authority announced Wednesday.

“We’re ready to go,” said Andrea Miranda, project developer for the Housing Authority. “A good portion of the folks with disabilities work downtown. Sometimes a big barrier for them is transportation. Now, they will live where they work.”

Miranda said many of the disabled residents who will live in the building work for government agencies in the downtown.

The Concord, as the building is called, has received $12.5 million in tax credits, grants and loans from Oregon Housing and Community Services.

Gov. John Kitzhaber announced this week that this project and 13 others around the state received the funding to build affordable housing.

The State Housing Council approved grants and tax credits for the projects that have a combined 600 units. Some of the units will be remodeled, while others such as The Concord will be new construction.

The units will provide homes for veterans, families needing a place to recover from addiction, elderly residents living on fixed incomes and people with disabilities.

The .69-acre lot immediately west of the Mail Tribune will have the main portion of the building along Grape and Sixth Streets, with 50 parking spaces in the rear along an alleyway and under the building near Fifth Street. The 50-foot tall building has been designed by Ogden, Roemer Wilkerson Architecture of Medford.

The first floor will feature an indoor play area for children, a media room and computer lab and a kitchen for gatherings.

The upper three floors will have one- and two-bedroom apartments that will rent for $490 to $641 a month.

A family of three that earns 50 percent of the area median income, or $23,850, would qualify for the housing.

"One in three Jackson County and Medford renters are severely rent-burdened, meaning they pay over 50 percent of their income towards rent," Miranda said.

Miranda said 13 apartments will be set up for developmentally disabled residents. Pathway Enterprises, which provides services for the disabled residents, will also have an office in the building.

Other residents that could become residents include elderly residents on a fixed income or a young family with a student.

The Housing Authority purchased the Grape Street lot from the city of Medford as part of an agreement reached to limit the size of its Cherry Creek housing complex on Spring Street.

The Housing Authority reduced the size of the Spring Street complex from 100 to 50 units and transferred 2.5 acres of the 6-acre property to the city for parkland and a buffer between the complex and Spring Street. In exchange, the city agreed to swap the commercially zoned lot downtown for low-income housing.

Miranda said the Housing Authority has received land-use approvals for the Grape property and will be working on permits over the next few months to begin construction.

Medford Councilor Daniel Bunn said he welcomes creating a residential complex in the downtown, particularly for those who already work nearby.

He said he’s excited to have families living in the downtown and said he looks forward to seeing the new building, noting that the Housing Authority has developed other attractive complexes in the area.

“It should be a pretty good looking project,” he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow on Twitter at @reporterdm.

The Concord development in downtown Medford will include one- and two-bedroom apartments for low-income and disabled renters. Image courtesy of OgdenRoemerWilkerson Architecture