DMA’s First Reimagine Medford Tour

“A gorgeous space for retail! The light is beautiful – and the high ceilings – wow! What about quality, fashionable clothing and footwear?” These were a few of the comments made when Downtown Medford Association’s Reimagine Medford Tour visited the vacant Lawrence’s Jewelry building. 

The Reimagine Medford Tour brought 25 people downtown to see the various opportunities for local businesses to grow and move to the city center. The tour started at the Sparta Building, looking at a lovely available space in the beautifully remodeled upstairs with its bright white walls and hardwood floors. From there they walked to some other available spaces, among them the Lawrence’s building, the large downstairs space at One West Main, and the upstairs space over Artistic Piano. 

The group also looked at Downtown Market’s Vinyl Room to see what has been done with that upstairs space, and glanced at The Children’s Museum of Southern Oregon and the Holly Theatre to note the good things happening there. From there, they walked to The Genesis at 8th and Holly and briefly toured part of the construction site of this 62-unit workforce apartment complex being built by Laz Ayala.

The tour ended up at The Gypsy Blues Bar to hear about the resources that this business accessed in their move to the current location at 111 South Grape Street, share their thoughts on the tour and the potential for Downtown Medford, and to enjoy refreshments. 

The concept for the Reimagine Tour originated from the Economic Vitality committee and the 2022 DMA Board retreat. This approach is widely recognized and utilized by downtown organizations throughout the country to engage community members and stimulate their ideas regarding vacant spaces and desired enhancements in downtown areas, ultimately promoting vibrancy. The Reimagine Downtown Tour Committee was made up of three DMA Board members,  supplemented by the expertise of two city employees: Harry Weiss from Medford Urban Renewal (MURA), and Sam Barnum from the City Building Safety Department, and Max Sinclair with ORW Architecture. These individuals possess a strong passion for leveraging the full potential of our downtown and have abundant resources to assist and collaborate with tenants in underutilized buildings and can help DMA and the city achieve one of the paramount objectives laid out by the city council for the biennial period 2023 – 2025 – “to align infrastructure investments to revitalize downtown and enhance economic development efforts.”

The committee selected the group to attend the first Reimagine Tour. They had over 50 names on the table knowing they needed to have no more than 25 on the tour to be effective. The idea was to invite developers, elected officials, building owners, community members, and downtown business owners to participate. The tour was able to bring together thought leaders and spaces to be seen anew and brought to life with new businesses. The tour was an on-the-ground SWOT analysis connecting what they saw, envisioned, and learned about to an action plan supporting a vibrant downtown with a healthy business and tenant mix.

DMA’s next steps will be to evaluate how the tour went and what they should lean into as they plan the next event that focuses on showcasing available spaces in our downtown, as well as what can be changed or added. . 

Participants have been asked to participate in a survey asking for such information as their overall impression of the tour, suggestions for places to visit on subsequent tours, what types of businesses they would like to see in Downtown Medford, and their priorities for Downtown Medford.

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