The proposed One West Main office and retail building is shown in this artist’s rendition, looking east at the corner of West Main and South Fir streets. - courtesy Ankrom Moisan Associate

Downtown's ugly duckling ready for make-over

The Evergreen parking structure, downtown Medford's 7-year-old architectural ugly duckling, is one step closer to acquiring a new look.

Plans developed by Ankrom Moisan Associated Architects of Portland have been submitted to the city for the $9 million, four-story One West Main office and retail complex, which would wrap around the present parking structure.

An agreement bringing Pacific Retirement Services, Rogue Disposal and Recycling and Procare Software to the site was announced in October. Bid requests went out last month to seven construction firms, including Adroit Construction, Batzer Construction, R.A. Murphy Construction and S&B James Construction.

The 117,000-square-foot building, situated just west of the railroad tracks and bounded by West Main, South Fir and West Eighth streets, will begin an expected 60-day journey through the planning process, starting with a historical review.

"By getting the plans in and the (bid) proposal requests out at the same time, it puts us on a parallel path so when the city gets through its process we won't be delayed by having to put out proposal requests," said Gary Penning, government affairs director for Rogue Disposal.

Rick Waldron, vice president of Procare Software anticipated completion in the summer of 2014, allowing the companies to bring nearly 200 workers to the city core.

Designed by Ankrom Moisan architect Tuan Q. Luu, the exterior of the wrap-around structure will be brick, broken up by large swaths of glass, to reduce the scale of the building along the street's edge.

"Combined with textured metal panels and vertical windows, it helps to give One West Main a pedestrian-friendly appearance," Luu said in a press release. "The taller brick mass at the corner of West Main helps to serve as a gateway to the downtown core, including county buildings, Alba Park, and the new (county) health services complex."

Rogue Disposal will occupy much of the 15,000-square-foot top floor, PRS will move into the 30,000-square-foot third floor, while Procare Software will take up half of the 30,000-square-foot second floor. The building will front on Main Street with the corner of Main and South Fir being preserved as a prime retail location.

"Our goal, especially on the ground floor is to add to downtown activity," Waldron said. "Whether it becomes retail or a restaurant that attracts people, that's what we need more of."

Brian McLemore, president and chief executive officer of PRS, began eyeing the site two years ago. The senior community management company originally planned to consolidate its staff into a new building near its Homewood Suites location on Ellendale Street. While showing its present headquarters to Procare Software, which also was looking for a larger office, talk turned to a possible collaboration downtown.

"We saw what Lithia was doing thought there might be an opportunity," McLemore said. Lithia Motors recently opened its corporate headquarters in downtown Medford.

Last spring, McLemore and Rogue Disposal chief executive Stephen Gambee wound up seated next to each other on a flight from Portland to Medford.

"I knew Stephen had moved his office out to the transfer station (in White City) and I asked him 'How about moving back downtown?' " McLemore said. "He said they had been thinking about moving back to town, so he came on board. We've got three groups who think being downtown is a good idea and wanted to be part of the good things happening down there."

Between announcing the deal and obtaining the city's blessing in October, a series of limited liability companies — including the operating entity — were formed.

"To get three groups to sign off on a building design takes some time," McLemore said.

Waldron said the group has been approached by a couple of local companies about the ground-floor space, but nothing has been put in place.

"Each of the partners has spoken to different businesses as well," he said. "As of today, we don't have anything firmed up."

PRS has 100 employees and Procare, currently on Excel Drive near Costco, would bring 45 employees to the downtown location. The company creates child-care management software for more than 25,000 clients.

Rogue Disposal will transfer 50 employees to the new headquarters suite.

In the late 1990s, the city proposed a six-story combined retail, office and residential project known as the Winetrout Building. But a threatened lawsuit halted that effort in 2002. Another effort, the Bella Vita project, was announced in 2005, with a residential and retail components to be built on three sides of the $10.2 million Evergreen garage. That, too, fell by the wayside.

In the nearly seven years since, the parking structure, while operational, has sat in the middle of a large concrete pad, its blank walls flanked on three sides by construction fencing.

The new offices will change all that, finally.

"Our company has always been part of downtown Medford since the 1930s, until 10 years ago," said Penning of Rogue Disposal. "It's really a homecoming for us. This is going to revitalize the area and get folks shopping, eating and enjoying downtown — it's great for everybody..

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or e-mail Follow him on Twitter @GregMTBusiness, and read his blog at Edge.

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