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Dentists receive approval for complex

ASHLAND - Dental clients will find easier parking and perhaps deal with other medical needs in one stop at a professional plaza on Washington Street near Interstate 5.

The development, being developed by four dentists and the first of its kind in town, gained final approval from the Ashland Planning Commission's hearings board on Tuesday.

Washington Street Professional Plaza adjacent to Highway 66 (Ashland Street) will feature 13 building sites and common areas for parking, lawns and gazebos. David Layer, Mountainside Family Dental partners Randy and Karla Rothfus and Michael Henneman combined their resources to develop the site. Sale of the property by Anthony Abbate of Merced, Calif., is expected to close by the end of the week.

Both Layer and Karla Rothfus said the new site would be more convenient for clients.

"There's really no place to build in downtown," said Rothfus. "Our main goal was to find parking for patients so they didn't have to walk or face getting tickets."

"I'm concerned about very limited wheelchair access (at my present location)," said Layer, who also mentioned improved parking as a primary concern. A total of 150 parking spaces will be available.

Layer's present office is on Siskiyou Boulevard across from Southern Oregon University. Henneman's office is on B Street. Mountainside is across from the Ashland Post Office on First Street.

Layer hopes to be at the new site within a year. Henneman will probably also relocate in about a year, said Layer. Rothfus said she and her husband would be at the plaza within two years.

An outline plan submitted to the commission shows buildings with ground floors of nearly 3,000 square feet. Eight of the 13 buildings have 2,200-square-foot second floors for residential units.

Site development could start as early as next week. Trinity Excavation of Ashland will construct all improvements. The developers will provide all parking, sidewalks, landscaping and utilities up to the building sites. The work is estimated to take about six months.

Mountainside, Layer and Henneman will probably be the only dentists in the complex. Developers hope to have medically-related businesses in all buildings, according to Rothfus. No retail or restaurant spaces are planned.

Rothfus would like to see a dental lab in the complex. That would allow lab technicians to do custom shapes matched to existing teeth while she is performing cosmetic work.

Lots in the plaza will cost about $150,000, according to Rothfus. She estimated Mountainside would spend at least $400,000 for a dental office at ground level. Layer put the cost of land purchase and site development at about $1.45 million.

"We will sell lots as soon as we can," said Layer. "Basically we're interested in creating an owners' group that will work together through the years."

Other medical professionals have expressed interest in the location, said Don Rist of VanVleet & Associates Inc., who is handling the land sale.

Developers agreed to be in a local improvement district to install a signal light at the intersection of Washington Street with Highway 66 when traffic increases.

A factory outlet mall was proposed for the site in the early 1990s. Those plans were dropped due to community opposition.

Reach Ashland bureau reporter Tony Boom at 482-4651, or e-mail