A long-awaited $10 million Medford Center transformational makeover is nearing takeoff.
Los Angeles-based LBG Real Estate Co. plans to enliven the 57-year-old regional shopping center by creating “The Village at Medford Center," an entertainment enclave.
"It's taken a while to bring the concept together," said Leslie Lundin, one of three LBG managing partners. "Medford Center is a big property, and our goal is to make it Medford's living room, a great place for entertainment. We wanted to make sure we had something that would bring together the wine industry, beer, the baker element, artistic and live entertainment community."
LBG showed off its vision that includes a 75-foot tower on the southwest corner of Sears, displaying tenant names, a new entry arch and a Southern Oregon touch — a pine cone.
"We spent a lot of time thinking about the history of Medford and why people come here and why they escape bigger urban areas," Lundin said. "A lot of it is the natural beauty of the area, so we latched on to pine cones. It's a really beautiful image, it's gorgeous and graceful and something easily incorporated into our message."
LBG's principals — Lundin, Doug Beiswenger and David Goldman — have been far more hands-on than the global company, Kimco Realty, from whom they acquired the 36.89-acre center in late 2014 for $22.2 million.
"They were almost an absentee landlord that didn't pay attention," Lundin said. "We pay attention and care. We've been pleasantly surprised with the amount of tenant interest and community support."
From City Hall to the man on the street, Lundin said, LBG's vision has gotten affirmative responses.
"It was this area's original mall," Lundin said. "People have a real affection for the property. There's a history here, people know it and connect with it."
The entrance to the pedestrian promenade shared by multiple tenants, including Tinseltown movie theater, will feature a large "The Village" sign over the top of Medford Center, replacing the Tinseltown logo.
The former jewelry shop on the southwest corner of the promenade has been known as The Village Gate for several months. Additional seating will be added to the area, punctuated by water and fire features.
LBG is reconfiguring existing structures in the 420,000-square-foot center to add more than 30,000 square feet of retail space, hoping to attract a restaurant and brewery. Part of that was accomplished by the owners working out a deal with International Fitness to create more than 10,000 square feet.
The Village Gate serves as the center’s temporary live entertainment venue, but that will be among one of the first changes, Lundin said. Collaborative Theatre Project, which has used the area, will shift its operations to the northwest perimeter of the center, near Oil Stop.
"Collaborative Theatre has been doing performances at our events," she said. "Those are the kind of things we can get done pretty much right away."
The local Department of Motor Vehicles office, which called Medford Center home before relocating to Progress Square in 2001, is returning and will lease the space between Safeway and RiteAid drugstore. In addition, LBG has signed Willamette Valley Bank and World of Insurance to move in by the end of this year.
LBG representatives met with the city planning staff earlier this month to work out any rough spots before submitting their plans.
"We knew it would take a while to get the right plan together. It took us two weeks to pick the font for 'The Village,' " Lundin said. "Summer is a big season, and we wanted to get going as soon as we could. It's right before Fourth of July, and we were hoping to give people something to look forward to even though most of the plaza renovation will be done in 2017."
She said plans will be formally delivered to the city sometime in the next 60 days.
"We want to create an environment where you want to hang out," Lundin said. "It's pretty and comfortable."
Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31