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City officials want to create a pedestrian walkway through the Middleford Parking Garage. - Jamie Lusch

MURA allows Lithia to remodel Middleford Parking Garage

Dark, sometimes foreboding stairwells at a downtown parking garage could see the light under a plan by Lithia Motors to refurbish a facility built 13 years ago at a cost of $7 million.

The Medford Urban Renewal Agency board on Thursday agreed to let Lithia Motors remodel the Middleford Parking Garage at a cost of up to $2 million.

The work will take care of deferred maintenance issues on the building, including sealing the concrete deck, painting and other repairs.

Removing a brick facade from stairwells facing Sixth Street and Middleford Alley will make the garage safer and more secure for pedestrians as well as bring additional light into the building, making it more inviting and less foreboding, said Eric Iversen, project manager for Lithia.

"It will significantly open that up," he said.

Lithia will be the project manager for the construction of the pedestrian walkway, reconnecting Bartlett Street at Sixth Street at a cost of up to $300,000.

Previous estimates for remodeling the parking garage ran as high as $2 million when the city assessed the amount of deferred maintenance required for the building.

"It's our job to go out there and find a cost-effective solution," Iverson said.

By allowing Lithia to take on the remodeling in conjunction with the pedestrian walkway, the overall price tag could come down, MURA board members hope.

"Doing this all together should save the taxpayers and MURA some money," said Dick Gordon, a MURA board member and councilman.

Lithia already is acting as the project manager for The Commons project, which will feature the auto company's headquarters as its centerpiece as well as two small parks along Bartlett Street.

Lithia will spend $18 million to build its four-story, 80,000-square-foot headquarters. MURA will spend $14 million as its share of the project.

The pedestrian walkway through the parking garage is another feature of The Commons project.

Iversen said the existing walkway that zigzags through the building will be abandoned, which could create additional retail space on the first floor.

The walkway will be designed so there won't be any conflicts with vehicles and will be about 20 feet wide, allowing someone standing on Middleford Alley to see the new park blocks to the north.

Iversen said fewer than 10 parking spaces would likely be lost because of the walkway design. He said Lithia is working on ways to maximize the existing parking configuration on the first floor to minimize the loss of spaces.

The existing vehicle entrance to the parking garage on Sixth Street will be the location of the new walkway. A new entrance to the garage will be required.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or e-mail dmann@mailtribune.com.

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