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OSF plans new building in Talent

64,500-square-foot project will house costumes, sets work
 Posted: 2:00 AM October 09, 2012

TALENT — The Oregon Shakespeare Festival will build a 64,500-square-foot production building off Talent Avenue to consolidate costume management, set construction and painting that are currently spread over three locations in two towns.

"It's something that I know we need to do to improve the efficiency of our operation," said OSF Executive Director Paul Nicholson. "We've wanted to do this for 10 years."

OSF submitted an application Sept. 24 to the city to build the facility on 3.5 acres of land it purchased west of Talent Avenue next to the Fabricated Glass Specialities Inc. plant.

Cost of the project, including land acquisition, building construction, design work and city fees, will total about $6 million, Nicholson said. It will be funded by reserves, financing and non-public fundraising already underway, although contributions are welcomed, he added.

Construction could begin in December, he said. OSF hopes to move into the new space in August 2013 in time to build sets for the 2014 season. Adroit Construction of Ashland will build the structure, which was designed by Ogden Roemer Wilkerson Architecture of Medford.

Costumes currently are stored and managed in a 14,000-square-foot leased space on Hersey Street in Ashland, sets are built in a shop on Ashland's downtown Second Street and painting takes place in Phoenix.

"You can imagine how much more efficient the operation will be," said Nicholson. "We are not having to take everything that has to be painted up to Phoenix."

The move will have ripple effects for festival operations in downtown Ashland.

Three large rehearsal spaces and a smaller working space will be created in the Second Street building, where rehearsals share space with festival education efforts now.

"All the rehearsal work will be in one area and we'll have dedicated education space," said Nicholson. "The dual use creates conflicts."

Rental of costumes to theater companies across the nation will be moved to Talent.

Nicholson estimated about 30 people will work at the facility, which will include office spaces and feature two loading docks.

OSF will have to build a road to the site as required by the city's master transportation plan, said City Planner Mark Knox. Road expenses can be used as a credit toward city system development fees.

About half of the single-level, metal building will be for storage, said Knox.

"They need a single-level floor because of equipment going back and forth," said Knox.

Costume storage will be located along the north wall to reduce noise affecting homes that are located about 70 feet away on Rapp Road. Work hours are normally from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., said Nicholson. A meeting is scheduled with neighbors Thursday.

Knox said he expects the application to go the Planning Commission in November for review.

Festival officials looked at the former Talent Walmart, a 90,000-square-foot building, as a possible site. Electric motorcycle maker Brammo Inc. of Ashland announced in July that it will purchase the building.

Nicholson cited several factors for choosing Talent over Ashland.

"It's a matter of finding a piece of land that is large enough and level enough and close enough to meet our need," said Nicholson. "This is the one that fits all our criteria."

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at

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