A proposed destination medical spa would replace pear orchards on a 50-acre parcel of land just outside Jacksonville on Highway 238. - Jim Craven

Spa could spur economy

A proposed medical resort in Jacksonville could generate up to $3.5 million annually for the local economy by offering skin-pampering facials and other minor dermatology treatments in a setting that would include a hotel, private cottages and a small golf course.

The Railway Park Resort would require Jacksonville to expand its city boundaries to include what is now a 50-acre pear orchard off Highway 238 that's owned by Grants Pass dermatologist David Young.

"It would provide the piece that Jacksonville currently doesn't have," said Young.

"It would give year-round support to the tourist industry."

He said the project would be designed to fit in with Jacksonville's historic character and provide a scenic entry point into town that will retain its agricultural character.

An analysis prepared for Young by Eugene-based EcoNorthwest estimated that a medical spa could attract an estimated 9,000 to 27,000 visitors annually, create the equivalent of 10 to 24 full-time jobs, and generate $22,000 to $112,000 in property taxes and $48,000 to $135,000 in lodging taxes.

The proposed hotel could have 40 rooms, and there would be 20 individual cottages. A high-end RV park, which is currently lacking in Jacksonville, could have 50 to 150 spaces.

The resort, which would cost $7 million to $10 million, could feature an indoor pool, fitness gym, and physical rehabilitation facilities. The spa could include massage, sauna, steam rooms, facials and other treatments.

Young said that some minor medical treatments could be available using Botox and lasers, and more services could be added depending on market conditions.

Recreational activities could include bocce ball or croquet courts, outdoor terraces and gardens including an outdoor wedding area, water features and walking trails. Resort facilities could be made available to the community through a membership program.

Jacksonville officials said attracting medical tourists could help diversify the city's economy.

Paul Wyntergreen, Jacksonville city administrator, said the medical spa would lean more toward plastic surgery and other minor treatments rather than more serious conditions.

"It's not for real sick people," he said.

The property, located at 5155 Jacksonville Highway (also known as Highway 238), lies outside the city limits.

Initially, city officials looked into expanding city boundaries under the lengthy regional problem solving process, which is a coordinated effort by local cities and Jackson County to increase the size of their jurisdictions to accommodate a doubling of populations over the next few decades.

Wyntergreen said state officials last month said they didn't like including the spa resort in the regional problem-solving process because the land it would be built on is zoned for agriculture.

Now the city is considering another time-consuming process to annex the 50 acres.

Under the original proposal offered last year, the spa would have been on 137 acres, but it has been scaled back to just 50. About 16 acres of the land would be devoted to the resort, with the remainder left for outdoor recreation and green areas.

Bringing the land into the city could take several years, and the annexation would have to be approved before work could begin on the spa.

"There will be a series of legal hoops to go through before they begin to move dirt," Wyntergreen said.

Young said he was disappointed that the state wouldn't allow his property into the city under the RPS process, particularly after he received support from the City Council and Jacksonville citizens during an extensive design process.

He said he would be willing to seek an annexation amendment as suggested by the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development if he gets some backing from Jacksonville.

"If the city council still wishes to support it, I'm still enthusiastic to move ahead," he said.

Young said the health spa facility would be almost invisible from the street. He said parking areas at the spa could be used for Britt Festival concerts, and a trolley could shuttle them to the Britt grounds.

Young said he hopes to secure a federal grant to develop an electric trolley system that would link Medford to Jacksonville along an old rail line.

Bill Leep, Jacksonville city councilman, said he's reviewed the project and thinks it would be a good fit for his community.

Medical spas are the fastest growing trend in the destination resort industry, he said.

"It's a great idea," he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476 or

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