A rendering shows the layout of part of a subdivision of 3D printed houses being planned in west Medford. [Artwork from newspiritvillage.org]

An affordable housing project in southwest Medford featuring 3D-printed homes should have the first units available sometime next year.

Medford City Council on Dec. 15 approved the designation of a third of an acre of Lewis Park for the continuation of Vick Lane, creating a key access point for the housing project, known as New Spirit Village.

The park access also is needed to install underground utilities for the 84-unit project on Meadows Road.

Lewis Park is 7.3 acres, and the portion that will be used for a roadway and utility access is 55.5 feet wide, 240 feet long and located on the western side of the park.

Barry Thalden, president of New Spirit Village Inc., said the project has been more time consuming than he expected to get all the permits together to start construction.

“There’s a lot of complications to get the project approved,” he said.

His contractor, Outlier Construction in Medford, has submitted the site development plans for the first phase of the project.

The $20 million project, located on a 6-acre site, would include one-, two- and three-bedroom single-family homes, designed to be energy-efficient, fire-resistant and able to withstand extreme weather and earthquakes.

The 3D-printed walls will be formed by robotic technology that squeezes out a cement mixture from a nozzle, creating walls that look something like a layer cake.

The pilot project has gotten attention from IMAX, which has contacted Thalden to produce a video describing the 3D process and to interview some of the prospective New Spirit homeowners.

Thalden said the city has requested more information from the contractor on 31 different details for the site preparation, such as the connection to the city sewer system.

“We have just completed responding to all of those,” he said.

He hopes to begin the site work sometime after the first of the year.

Once the site preparation is completed, New Spirit will seek building permits to build the units themselves.

“We may be able to start building houses by May or June at the latest,” he said.

The first four display models should be built about four months after the start of the building phase.

Once the project gets rolling, Thalden said he hopes to deliver a house a week using the 3D-building technology.

New Spirit is designed specifically for fire and other disaster survivors.

Thalden said he expects a one-bedroom house would cost $185,000, and a three-bedroom, two-bath house would run $235,000.

“It’s still half the cost of a market-rate house,” he said.

The more affordable price is aided by $5.5 million in grants, with the biggest being a $4.3 Oregon LIFT (Local Innovation and Fast Track) grant.

Prospective homeowners still need to qualify for a loan, and ACCESS and United Way are finding fire survivors and others who could be eligible.

The equipment used to create the 3D-printed walls is readily available, Thalden said, and can be transported on a flatbed truck.

The Thalden Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation, established and directed by Kathryn and Barry Thalden. New Spirit Village is a sister nonprofit foundation.

For information, see newspiritvillage.org.

Reach freelance writer Damian Mann at dmannnews@gmail.com.

Kathryn and Barry Thalden are spearheading NewSpirit Village, a 3D-printed housing project in west Medford. [Courtesy photo]

A 3D printer extrudes a layer of cement as it constructs the walls of a structure. The technology is expected to be used to build a Medford housing project next year. [Courtesy photo]


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