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Local economy poised to soar

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Several large hotel, housing and health care construction projects are scheduled to start or open in 2022, stoking optimism for a prosperous new year

The Rogue Valley has gone through a rough patch for the past couple of years but is ready to ring in the new year with a surge of economic activity.

Pacific Retirement Systems is gearing up to start next spring or summer the first phase of residential construction around the Centennial Golf Course area worth about $500 million.

Four hotels are about to open, including the 111-room Compass by Margaritaville Hotel, which will have a tiki-lounge atmosphere.

This is the first Margaritaville hotel in Oregon and is being built on Coquille Indian land on South Pacific Highway near the Harry & David headquarters. It is scheduled to open in the spring.

A total of 3,000 rooms will be available in Medford with the addition of the new hotels. An occupancy rate of 78.5% at hotels this year represented a 35% increase over last year.

Much-needed housing projects are also in the pipeline.

A 400-unit apartment complex has been proposed next to the Northgate Marketplace off McAndrews Road adjacent to the shopping plaza that contains REI, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Trader Joe’s and other retailers.

In addition, The Medford Urban Renewal Agency is working with a developer to build more than 100 units of low-income housing next to Les Schwab near downtown.

“We have incredible momentum in the community,” said Eli Matthews, president & CEO of The Chamber of Medford & Jackson County, which has 1,250 members.

He said the hospitality industry, which includes restaurants, bars and hotels, took a beating during the pandemic and with the fires.

“A lot of the attractions such as theaters, ziplines, restaurants and bars came to a complete halt for a while,” Matthews said.

But he said more people are traveling throughout the state, and he points to the increase in traffic along Interstate 5 and in Medford to underscore the point.

Despite ongoing obstacles, including the need for housing and headwinds from the pandemic, Matthews said, Medford has enough projects and momentum to keep the local economy soaring.

He expects the new Rogue Credit Union Community Complex at Wes Howard Memorial Community Park in west Medford to spur even more economic activity.

The project will feature 140,000 square feet of space, which will house an events center and two indoor pools, all of which will be operated year round.

The latest budget for the project is $65.5 million, and it’s slated to open by summer 2023.

Asante, the health care giant in the Rogue Valley, expects to pump close to $1 billion into new health care facilities over the next decade.

Asante’s single largest project is a $420 million expansion of its Rogue Regional Medical Center, adding 323,600 square feet to the hospital in east Medford, an effort that will be completed in the next few years.

The hospital addition, one of the biggest building projects in recent Jackson County history, is taking place on the north side of the existing hospital, with the top two floors of the six-story structure dedicated to women and children. The existing hospital and ER will undergo 79,000 square feet of renovations.

Matthews said the valley continues to see significant in-migration from California, which has driven up housing prices and increased the demand for housing in general.

He said the challenges of the past two years have helped spur an entrepreneurial spirit.

“There are some people who only want to talk about problems, and there are other people who want to talk about possibilities,” Matthews said.

Reach freelance writer Damian Mann at dmannnews@gmail.com.

Ripple effect

Watch KTVL News 10’s 6 p.m. Monday broadcast to learn more about the COVID-19 impact on downtown businesses.