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Apartments, market could anchor Liberty Park plan

Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune Pacific Survey Supply, located at 908 N. Riverside Ave., is moving, and the city is thinking of redeveloping the site for multiple uses.
City eyes a link to the Bear Creek Greenway from the neighborhood along Riverside Avenue

A proposed revitalization effort along a stretch of Riverside Avenue that includes La Fiesta Restaurant could bring more badly needed housing to Medford.

The Medford Urban Renewal Agency hopes to attract a developer who could build an apartment complex with up to 45 units.

MURA wants to figure a way to build the apartment building close to a proposed pedestrian bridge over Bear Creek.

The idea gathered steam when the MURA board Thursday night ratified an option agreement to potentially purchase the one-acre Pacific Supply property on Riverside for $1,275,000.

The 60-day option allows the city time to perform environmental and appraisal work before the purchase.

Separately MURA is working with the owners of the adjacent restaurant on a proposal to build a 17,000-square-foot market.

“That would be a priority we’d like to see, especially if it lends itself to housing,” said Harry Weiss, director of the Medford Urban Renewal Agency.

La Fiesta approached the city last year about building the market, but the proposal called for construction closer to the creek and away from Riverside.

Weiss said MURA, if it follows through on buying the one-acre Pacific Supply property, could do a land swap so the owners of La Fiesta could build their market closer to Riverside.

La Fiesta owns 1.7 acres, but a good portion of it is in the riparian area.

One of the city’s goals is to position the market in a more visible location to make it more of a neighborhood store.

The properties included in the proposed redevelopment area are located from 908 to 920 N. Riverside Ave.

Also, the city wants to secure property along Bear Creek to eventually build a pedestrian bridge to connect the Liberty Park neighborhood to the Bear Creek Greenway.

Direct access from Riverside to the bridge is one of the city’s priorities.

Kids Unlimited also has an office building overlooking the creek in the middle of the proposed redevelopment.

The apartment building is still in the early stages of planning and would require interest from a developer.

Another aspect of the redevelopment is devising a different way to deal with runoff water from a large swath of the Liberty Park neighborhood to the west.

Untreated storm water currently runs directly into Bear Creek, and MURA hopes to create a catch basin that allows the water to be filtered before it pours into the fish-bearing creek.

Weiss said there is riparian area along the creek as well and a fairly steep bank above the water.

That leaves roughly two acres that could be developed for the restaurant, market and apartment building, along with a shared parking arrangement.

One of MURA’s biggest goals is to redevelop the Liberty Park neighborhood with $18 million that will be used to leverage state and federal grants for a variety of projects.

Some of the money has been used to convert a hotel into housing for fire survivors and homeless people.

MURA has bought and demolished several nuisance buildings in the area, and the city has been installing new sidewalks on some streets.

A flagship project proposed by MURA is a $48 million low-income apartment building on a 3.25-acre Central Avenue property next to Les Schwab.

The four-story complex would have 115 one- to three-bedroom units, and MURA has an option agreement with Rubicon Investments and Edlen & Co. to apply for financing from federal, state and conventional sources to get the project off the ground.

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