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Land swap lands hotel

Jamie Lusch / Mail TribuneA parking lot just north of the Lithia Commons will be part of a five-story Marriott Hotel

A swap of downtown parking lots is poised for approval by Medford officials, paving the way for a five-story Marriott Hotel.

“We’re trying to close on the exchange,” said Harry Weiss, director of the Medford Urban Renewal Agency. “That will be a milestone.”

The urban renewal agency board, made up of city councilors, wants to exchange a city parking lot on North Riverside Drive for a Lithia property to the north of Pear Blossom Park.

MURA and Medford City Council will hold a joint meeting at 6 p.m., Thursday, in the Prescott Room at the Medford Police Department, 219 S. Ivy St.

The deal would set the stage for construction of a 110-room Marriott Hotel on Fourth Street, bounded by Third Street to the north, North Apple Street to the east and North Bartlett Street to the west.

An independent appraisal determined both properties are valued at $1.5 million.

When Pear Blossom Park was conceived, planners discussed extending the park to the north of Fourth, 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.

The MURA lot off Riverside and just south of Inn at the Commons 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 plans to shift most of its employee parking to the Riverside lot, just to the south of Inn at the Commons. Under the deal with MURA, the parking lot would be available to the public at night and on weekends.

MURA and Lithia have also discussed potentially building a level on top of the parking lot to increase the number of spaces.

Lithia’s move to the new parking lot will free up spaces in the Middleford parking garage and other surface parking lots in the downtown.

Weiss said the Marriott project should progress more quickly now after being put on hold at the onset of the pandemic.

“We should see construction groundbreaking next year,” he said.

Western Hospitality LLC, working with Marriott, has been developing the plans for the Fourth Street lot.

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.

Western Hospitality is still going through design changes, but the hotel should 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.

Other changes are going to be discussed by MURA Thursday, including reconfiguring Fourth Street from four lanes to three, with additional bike lanes.

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