TALENT — Building may be on the upswing after a slow fall and winter, if increased activity at the city's planning department is an accurate indicator.

TALENT — Building may be on the upswing after a slow fall and winter, if increased activity at the city's planning department is an accurate indicator.

"There is very clear evidence that we appear to have been turning the corner in terms of the number of permits being issued and the number of proposals that are now active, as well as just the phone calls," said Mark Knox, interim city planner. "We're keeping busy, that's for sure."

Recent activity has included pre-application for a 3,500-square-foot office building on South Pacific Highway, a permit for a single-family residence with an accessory or "mother-in-law" unit on Lithia Way, and inquiry about annexing another lot on South Pacific Highway into the city for a storage facility.

Mark Snyder of Innovative Construction in Ashland plans to build the office structure at 311 S. Pacific Highway. Property owner William Barchet has a contract with a physical therapist to buy the site. A confidentiality agreement does not allow Barchet to identify the purchaser. A minor partitioning of Barchet's property will allow for later sale of two adjacent lots.

"We got on the July agenda for the Architectural Review Commission," said Snyder. "In the best case scenario we could start to build Aug. 1. We've got the plans. Hopefully they can approve them and get a permit out in a couple weeks."

About two-thirds of the building will house the therapy center, while the other third will be devoted to retail space for exercise and therapy accessories, said Snyder. Lot-layout features will be similar to a group of offices across the highway in the 200 block, where parking is behind the buildings with a sidewalk and entrances on the street side.

"The city supports building up on the street with parking in the rear," said Knox. "It's moving away from the strip-style development."

There have been discussions on annexing a 6,000-square-foot lot at 1717 S. Pacific Highway, where a storage facility may be built, Knox said.

In other development action, the city's Planning Commission Thursday approved an application to convert 12 lots originally designated for townhouses in the Old Bridge Village planned-unit development into eight single-family home lots. So far, 26 single-family residences have been built in the development. The new alignment will result in a total of 49 houses.

Old Bridge is located just south of Wagner Creek immediately east of Talent Avenue. The application was submitted by DBH, LLC and Rainy Day Holdings LLC, the developers.

"The bottom line is that townhouses in Talent have been challenging to sell, and therefore we ... applied to change," said Jim North of RE/MAX Realty in Ashland, who represents the property owners. The townhouses were in groups of three that required a larger investment by builders than construction of a single-family home.

Old Bridge was approved in 2003 with 41 single-family residences and the 12 townhouses, with four of the residences having accessory units. To maintain the residential density of the original proposal, the commission ruled that six additional accessory units should be built.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboom8929@charter.net.