Commons backers say they're still planning to build, but smaller

A nine-block downtown revitalization project that Medford officials last year put on indefinite hold because of the recession may be emerging from its state of limbo.

The city, the Medford Urban Renewal Agency and Medford-based automotive retailer Lithia Motors announced today that they are in negotiations to scale down the project to suit the current economy. That means the existing development agreement signed by all three parties will be scrapped, and a new one will be inked.

"The (Medford Commons) project is alive, and we are moving forward with the full intent of all parties," said Jackie Rodgers, executive director of the Medford Urban Renewal Agency, one of the partners in the redevelopment plan.

Many of The Commons' major design features will remain in place such as a downtown park and redevelopment of nine city blocks, officials said.

A plan for a 10-story building to house Lithia's headquarters will likely be downsized and moved a block south to the old Dodge building across Riverside Avenue from the Red Lion Hotel, 200 N. Riverside, officials said.

Lithia hopes to move into its new headquarters before its leased space at 360 E. Jackson St. expires in 2012.

Officials wouldn't release any other details about possible changes, citing pending negotiations. A draft development agreement is expected to be presented to Medford City Council in about a month.

— Paris Achen

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