Track The Commons project online

Lithia Motors has debuted a new website, www.thecommonsdowntown.com, detailing commercial development opportunities, the Commons' design, downtown Medford and Lithia Motors' new headquarters building.

Themed "The Soul of a City. The Heart of it All," the web page is designed to draw attention to a project that went from grand aspirations during good economic times to nearly falling off the drawing board.

Last fall, Lithia announced it had obtained financing to cover 80 percent of its $16 million share of the project and was going forward with its four-story headquarters building.

Mark DeBoer, Lithia's vice president for real estate, said a ground breaking will be scheduled "just before Pear Blossom" in late March or early April.

He said Lithia completed reacquisition of commons-area property it had sold to a real estate investment trust years ago.

DeBoer said Lithia and Medford Urban Renewal Agency own all the property involved in The Commons, with the exception of "a couple of odd lots" that have been sold to local developers in anticipation of the project.

Elements of the project are being reviewed by the city and DeBoer expects design and historical review approvals in the next 45 days. Once permits are issued, demolition of five existing buildings will follow.

As part of LEED certification, Lithia will reuse elements, including ground-up concrete, from previous construction in the area.

"A few historic-type things will be retained," he said, noting tile from the from the former Greyhound bus station entry will be used on a park stage.

In addition, a Facebook page for The Commons, found by searching for "The Commons Medford," is available for people who want to track project activity via social media.

"We want to attract other parties and interest to downtown," DeBoer said.

— Greg Stiles

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