WHITE CITY — Urban renewal, new residential development and road improvements have done a lot to remake this unincorporated urban area.

WHITE CITY — Urban renewal, new residential development and road improvements have done a lot to remake this unincorporated urban area.

Not that long ago, the erstwhile World War II training grounds were a combination of heavy wood products operations and blight. There wasn't much in between.

The eyes of the beholder, however, see the town in a different light these days — on both sides of Highway 62. One result is new industrial activity.

Burrill Resources, for example, has recently ordered a pair of 10,000-square-foot steel-framed buildings constructed by S&B James on the front end of a $3 million development known as Seventh Street Station that will have five buildings with 58,000 square feet on 5.8 acres on the southeast corner of Antelope Road and Seventh Street.

The property has been in the Burrill family's hands for a quarter of a century, but with recent road improvements on Antelope Road, the property was ripe for developing.

"It was just vacant dirt for years," says Curt Burrill. "The industrial space vacancy out there has been getting down pretty low. We planned this a year ago when we knew the road work would be done. It's got nice landscaping and visibility."

The project is kitty-corner to Boise Cascade's laminated veneer plant, west of Biomed Diagnostics and just north to the Denman Wildlife Area. There are other projects going on as well: Both Johnny Cat and Pro-Weld are in the process of building new facilities in White City.

"I'd say of the 2,200 acres of industrial park out here that 20 to 25 percent of the land is still vacant," Burrill says. "What I've seen in the last two years is that there is growth in existing businesses in the valley and that there is also a component of outside interests looking at White City."

Burrill is aware of companies from outside the area that have bought property in White City, but have yet to announce their plans.

"Those firms haven't started construction, but I bet in the next year or two they will," he says. "There are also out-of-the-area businesses that are interested in larger parcels (20 to 30 acres) and we're one of the five or six areas they are looking at."

John Anhorn, chief executive officer at PremierWest Bank says White City is an attractive option because of its location and cost.

"There's pretty easy access to both Highway 62 and Highway 140 and it's a good place to expand where the price of dirt isn't so expensive," Anhorn said.

One of Anhorn's customers is getting ready to build a facility off Antelope Road and another has done a condo conversion with leasing almost completed.

"We don't see a lot of businesses sites with 'For Lease' signs on them out there," said PremierWest President Jim Ford. "There are some thriving commercial businesses out there."

One of Seventh Street Station's tenants is expanding and moved from its previous quarters on Enterprise Drive in north Medford, and another is a start-up autobody and paint shop.

Elk Creek Casework, which builds high-end custom cabinets for new construction and remodels, opened its doors in December 2005. The company, headed by Dave Carlson, has five employees.

Bill Pharr has been in the construction and remodeling sector and expects to open Performance Autobody & Paint on Oct. 1. Pharr anticipates having 10 employees at his niche company specializing in older model and hot rod restoration.

"Between the combination of residential growth in Eagle Point and White City and the north end of Central Point, there's been a lot of growth," Burrill says. "The stigma of White City has slowly gone away. People don't mind saying they have a business in White City any more."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or at business@mailtribune.com