Lithia secures money for smaller Commons

Lithia Motors has secured two lenders to help launch construction of Medford's downtown Commons, a project that includes the company's future corporate headquarters.

The joint project to build a 65,000-square-foot headquarters and park space on city blocks between Sixth Street and Bartlett Street is funded by Lithia and Medford Urban Renewal Agency with hopes of revitalizing downtown.

Lithia executives and some city officials said the project would bring construction jobs in the short term and serve as a downtown magnet in the long term.

Lithia President Bryan DeBoer would not disclose the exact amount of the loans or the names of the West Coast lenders, but he said the loans will cover up to 80 percent of Lithia's $15 million share of the project.

MURA is contributing another $14 million to the project in the form of infrastructure, property acquisition and development of two park blocks adjacent to the headquarters.

The project includes construction of Lithia offices, 8,000 square feet in retail and dining space on the first floor, two city park blocks and a pedestrian thoroughfare through the Sixth Street city parking garage.

Medford's OgdenRoemerWilkerson Architecture and Interior Architects of Seattle have been working for the past six months on the design of the building.

Demolition of existing buildings is set to begin before the end of the year. Construction of the new building will start in the spring, with completion of the headquarters slated for fall 2011, DeBoer said. He estimated construction of the headquarters would employ about 200 people.

Plans for the project have been languishing since 2006. Since then, the Lithia building has been scaled down from a 10-story tower to four stories.

The corporate headquarters will consolidate about 300 of Lithia's downtown Medford employees. In that sense, the project won't bring new blood to downtown, but city officials are hopeful the concentrated staff will generally bring more economic activity and interest in the downtown center.

— Paris Achen

Share This Story