TALENT — Electric vehicle builder Brammo Inc. hopes to begin remodeling the former Walmart building within three to four months to allow the company to double its workforce over the next two years.
"The idea is to get in as quickly as we can and start using the space," said President Craig Bramscher. "We are kind of bursting at the seams."
Brammo purchased the 100,000-square-foot building earlier this year rather than build additional facilities in Ashland, where it is now headquartered.
Boora Architects of Portland is designing the remodel to include sustainable and environmentally friendly features it developed in similar projects undertaken for Google in Mt. View, Calif.
"We at least want to have a plan and do as much as we can over time," said Bramscher. "We want to be as sustainable as possible and stay within budget."
Those ideas range from using steel containers to create offices and conference rooms to installing photovoltaic solar panels and creating a landscaped green roof. There will also be skylights to bring in more natural light.
"We want to have the architecture be inspired by the path they (Brammo) are taking," said architect Chris Linn.
Bramscher hopes work can start within 90 days, but says he may be overly optimistic. Construction still needs to go to bid and remodel permits still secured from the city of Talent.
"I always underestimate all that," said Bramscher.
The firm's headquarters, research and development, electric bike production facilities and battery labs will be housed in the Talent building, vacated when Walmart moved to the new supercenter in south Medford. Prototype development and the firm's racing team also will be located in Talent.
Battery-making labs will require firewalls and lots of ventilation, said Bramscher.
Brammo estimates operations that are now housed in 30,000 square feet spread around Ashland will take up 55,000 of the new building initially.
Different firms are considering initial designs for the first phase of the project. Once finances are in place, Brammo will get bids for the work. An April 23 filing with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission showed the firm had raised another $4.5 million in equity funding.
A second remodel phase will include exterior building work and solar installations. Exterior windows will be installed and landscaping added.
"There will be a more graphic kind of display of what's going on inside," said Linn.
A potential third phase may include an additional structure on the 14-acre site.
"We've got a lot to work with," said Bramscher. "We'll use a lot of what's there."
Retail outlets on the site are another possibility for the third phase, said Linn. City Planner Mark Knox previously said that shops could be created along Valley View Road.
About 70 people work for the company. With the additional space, Bramscher estimates the workforce could double over 18 to 24 months.
Production of the Empulse motorcycle is currently limited by space in Ashland. All 2013 production has been pre-sold, said Bramscher. Most sales are to individuals, but he expects purchases by government agencies such as police departments to grow in 2014.
Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.