Medford's Bella Vita won't be built

The six-story residential and commercial Bella Vita project in downtown Medford is dead.

"It was a mutual agreement," said Jackie Rodgers, director of the Medford Urban Renewal Agency.

Portland developer Terry Cook and the MURA board put an end to the public-private partnership Thursday.

"We're not changing our thoughts with what we're doing with the property," Rodgers said. "Now that the contract is ending it's certainly going to be open to other developers."

The long-awaited downtown project of condos, specialty shops and high-end offices was designed to wrap around MURA's parking garage on the block between Main and Eighth streets and Fir Street and Evergreen Way.

Bella Vita was expected to cost $25 million when it was unveiled in 2005. Originally, delays were related to construction bids coming in higher than expected. Then the project was held up by a complaint to the state Bureau of Labor and Industries against the developer and MURA for not providing the prevailing wage rate for a public project.

BOLI ruled prevailing wage rates, which were higher than the developer was anticipating, must be paid. Coupled with the national downturn in the real estate market and the mortgage-lending crisis, the project just never got its footing again.

— Meg Landers

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