With the demolition of Copeland Lumber, the once controversial Northlight project comes one step closer to being built.

The next step, project developer Hal Dresner said, will be taken by whoever decides to buy one of the seven lots recently approved by the Ashland Planning Commission.

"Everybody who buys is going to have to go through the planning process," he warned.

In 2005, after several contentious planning hearings, which resulted in the first incarnation of Northlight being issued a denial, Dresner and his partners redesigned the project as a seven-lot subdivision and were given approval for the project this past spring.

They are now in the process of bringing down the existing Copeland building so that the seven lots will be ready to go on the market next week.

"There has been some interest," Dresner said. "We may decide to hold onto one or two and build them ourselves."

As for what gets built there, Dresner said that will be up to the buyer and the planning commission. The planning commission gave approval for the subdivision, but any subsequent plans must come back to them for site approval, he said.

Dresner said he is saddened the initial Northlight project, a 70,000-square-foot, mixed-use, three-building complex, was denied because it had many of the elements that urban designers look for in a downtown redevelopment project.

"Northlight gave the city what it wanted," he said. "Maximum density, underground parking, it was designed according to what everybody's view of what urban architecture should be. It was not only emotionally contentious, it was time wasted for staff. It was nitpicked to death."

The initial Northlight design was denied because it didn't adhere to a 20-foot setback ordinance that many argued is outdated, as well as for having issues with bulk and scale.

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