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Agenda & Minutes

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Medford Urban Renewal (View All)

Medford Urban Renewal Agency Study Session Agenda & Minutes

Thursday, September 13, 2018

September 13, 2018

6 p.m.
City Hall Medford Room
411 W. 8th Street, Medford, Oregon

The Medford Urban Renewal Agency (MURA) Board Study Session was called to order at 6:00 p.m. in the Medford Room of the Medford City hall on the above date with the following members and staff present:
Board Chair Kim Wallan; Board members Kevin Stine, Michael Zarosinski, Gary Wheeler
City Manager Brian Sjothun, City Attorney Lori Cooper, Medford Urban Renewal Director Harry Weiss, Public Works Director Cory Crebbin, Deputy City Recorder Winnie Shepard
Board members Clay Bearnson, Kay Brooks, Tim D’Alessandro, Dick Gordon and Tim Jackle were absent.
Revenue Collection & Pay-As-You-Go Spending
Urban Renewal Director Harry Weiss will begin passing along interesting urban renewal articles as he receives them, either to City Manager Brian Sjothun or to the Board directly.
Mr. Weiss affirmed his understanding of the substantial amendment:
  • Majority of revenue is received through annual tax collection
  • Projects and project prioritization have not been solidified
    • Need to establish a project budget and plan
Board Chair confirmed that MURA’s intent is to continue with pay-as-you-go to pay for projects.
Seismic Retrofitting for Downtown Buildings
Mr. Weiss noted the MURA Board allocated $2 million for seismic retrofit and outlined the following:
  • Opportunity to leverage FEMA planning or capital grants using MURA funds for required 25% local match
    • Planning grants up to $200,000
    • Capital grants up to $4 million
    • Clear, vetted project list needed to apply for these grants
    • Appears that we qualify for planning grants to fund an engineering study
Mr. Weiss reiterated that a clear project list is needed before moving forward.
  • Board could “bundle” seismic retrofit with façade or other improvements to improve the potential for housing in the downtown area
  • Poured concrete buildings are not classified as Unreinforced Masonry Buildings and do not trigger code-mandated seismic retrofit 
  • Pending legislature in California would require municipalities to identify seismically vulnerable buildings for disclosure of public safety concerns
  • Seismic retrofit and housing are both in the public interest
  • Seismic retrofit is a barrier to the adaptive rehabilitation of the downtown buildings
  • If housing were considered, the development community will identify whether to build low, median or high-income units, based on the market
  • Downtown revitalization should lead with multifamily rentals
  • Recommended a downtown housing market study
    • Previous study conducted in the early 2000’s
    • Urban renewal funds could be used for the housing study
    • Estimated four to six months to complete a study
  • Board needs to determine whether to prioritize housing and/or other revitalization objectives to couple with seismic retrofit in the downtown area 
Mr. Weiss clarified that the Board was directing staff to move forward with preliminary planning and engineering to put together a proposal for formal Board action to authorize funding toward the first phase of the retrofit, identifying projects and also looking at longer-term economic development objective that may be included within the retrofit dollars.
Liberty Park Neighborhood Planning
Mr. Weiss noted the Liberty Park neighborhood is well located, but surrounded by high-traffic areas with poor transition and connectivity. As the planning process unfolds the Board will need to determine how MURA funding should be most strategically spent on the balance of needs in the residential core as opposed to the critical vectors on the edges that could be catalyzed into something else. 
  • $17 million isn’t enough to address all the issues in the area
  • Could focus on housing conservation or infill opportunities
    • The parcels are pretty well built out, thus limiting infill opportunities, but some houses could be removed and rebuilt
  • There are revitalization opportunities along Riverside, Court and Central but the latter two are mostly outside the MURA district
    • Could consider another urban renewal district in that area
    • These roads are the gateway to Medford
    • Land use is underutilized after McAndrews
    • Rich opportunities for redevelopment
    • East side of Riverside could be more problematic as much of it is built on fill
    • Traffic analysis would be needed
      • Could reduce traffic lanes to provide on-street parking, sidewalks, bicycle facilities and create cohesive streetscape
      • Perhaps look into turning the streets back into 2 ways; very expensive
Mr. Weiss noted that more detailed analysis of the sewer lateral problem in the area is on-going and would need to be coordinated with streetscapes or sidewalks.  Public Works Director Cory Crebbin added that I&I will be a huge benefit for the city and the properties.  Mr. Weiss recommended liens on the properties that receive sewer lateral work.  Those liens would be paid back upon the sale of the property. 
Downtown Housing & Parking
A Portland Pop-Up event will be held October 23, 2018 during which City staff will speak about Medford’s housing needs and development opportunities. The seismic retrofit is a benefit for developers wanting to work on housing on the upper floors.
  • MURA owns three parking lots; across from the library, at the Inn at the Commons and a small lot at 8th and Holly.
    • Could use that land for housing, but would need to address parking displacement
    • Lots could help MURA meet its goals for downtown while returning them to the tax roll
Mr. Weiss noted the large parking deck at the County is more than half empty.  He suggested working with the County to utilize that space for employee parking and using our parking lot to create an apartment building.  Sharing the parking deck would make better use of tax dollars already invested in significant parking infrastructure.
Mr. Sjothun advised that he spoke with County Administrator Danny Jordan regarding this parking idea.  If the Board agreed, staff could pursue partnering with the county regarding parking.  There were no objections.
Mr. Weiss will attend next week’s G3 meetings to discuss Opportunity Zones.  All of MURA is in an Opportunity Zone. 
The identification of potential properties for seismic retrofit analysis will happen over the next 60 days.  The identification of projects in the Liberty Park area won’t be completed around the summer of 2019.
Most of the MURA funding will be received in November, an estimated $3.4 million a year. Mr. Weiss recommended a strategy for determining projects before beginning a clear plan. 
The meeting adjourned at 6:53 p.m.  
Winnie Shepard
Deputy City Recorder

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