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Hotel project headed to downtown Medford

A 110-room, extended stay Marriott could be built just north of Pear Blossom Park in downtown Medford as part of a city land swap with Lithia Motors.

Western Hospitality LLC, working with Marriott, has been developing plans for a lot just north of the park facing Fourth Street.

Harry Weiss, executive director of the Medford Urban Renewal Agency, said the five-story high building would be comparable in scale to the Lithia headquarters on Central Avenue.

The upscale suites would come with kitchens, and the hotel would feature two patios overlooking the park, along with two bars and a swimming pool, which would be partially indoors and partially outdoors. The L-shaped hotel would have some underground parking.

Medford Urban Renewal Agency and Lithia have been in discussions about swapping a MURA-owned parking lot just to the south of the Inn at the Commons for the Lithia property on Fourth, according to Weiss.

If all goes well, the exchange could happen sometime in March, Weiss said. The details of an agreement between MURA and Western Hospitality for the Fourth Street property are still being worked out.

“We still have quite a way to go yet,” Weiss said.

Both properties were each appraised for $1.5 million.

The MURA lot off Central Avenue is 3 acres, but only 2.1 acres is usable because a portion of it goes through Bear Creek.

The Lithia property is 1.65 acres.

“Lithia is a huge consumer of parking,” Weiss said. “They would have consolidated parking in the parking lot and they would make a lot of the lot available for public use.”

Lithia has also discussed building an elevated deck to increase the amount of parking, and Weiss said MURA has discussed contributing dollars to that project if it’s done over the next three to five years.

When Pear Blossom Park was first conceived, planners discussed extending the park across Fourth to the Lithia lots, but that idea was abandoned. Another hotel has been on the city’s wish list for a while, and the Inn at the Commons is being transformed from a hotel into studio apartments.

Steve Reimer, who runs Western Hospitality with his brother, Kevin, said, “For downtowns to prosper, you need to buy in on the success.”

Reimer, an Ashland resident, said there are enough downtown and regional activities to help fill the new hotel and help attract more people to Medford.

Also, by the time the hotel would open, the new sports complex at Wes Howard Community Park could be close to opening, and the Holly Theatre is projected to be open by the end of the year.

Reimer said the biggest issue right now is securing financing for the project, so he was hesitant to offer an opening date. Also the project was progressing well until last year.

“We hit the pause button to get through the onset of the pandemic,” he said.

He said the project is still going through design changes, saying it will likely be five or six stories tall.

On the first floor, there would be a patio looking out to Pear Blossom Park, with the pool close by.

Another patio would be located on the second story, again with a view over the park.

The hotel would have meeting spaces, but no large conference rooms.

Reimer said the hotel would provide a recruitment and training program for hospitality jobs.

He said some existing buildings owned by Lithia on the property, located between North Bartlett and North Apple streets on Fourth, would be razed.

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