MEDFORD, Ore. — After 25 years, the Medford Urban Renewal Agency, or MURA, is soon to be no more. The agency is preparing to spend its last few dollars, a proposed $10.5 million.
The Downtown Commons was one of the many projects the Urban Renewal Agency helped orchestrate. Now that MURA is closing the books, another group, the non-profit Heart of Medford Association, says they want to pick up where they leave off.
City officials say many of the public dollars spent by MURA have been on brick and mortar improvements, which means things like beautification, parking structures, traffic signals, and infrastructure improvements.
Now, the Heart of Medford Association says they want to create what’s called an economic improvement district. Downtown businesses vote to tax themselves in support of downtown development, and then work with the Heart of Medford to figure out where those dollars will be spent.
Heart of Medford says rather than investing in infrastructure, they want to focus on marketing what downtown Medford has to offer.
Heart of Medford says economic improvement districts have been created in about 1,200 cities across the country. That includes Portland, Salem, Bend, and many other cities across Oregon.
She says there has been some controversy, but the model has largely been successful.