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Changes afoot on the hill

After a lengthy pause, new commercial construction has resumed along upper East McAndrews Road.

It’s been seven years since a commercial building was built on Brownridge Terrace, which parallels East McAndrews Road next to the Vista Pointe residential development. Now a new office structure is going up and the long-idle day spa near Oregon Park is being remodeled into a dental office.

"I've always had a dream of having my own office building as a financial adviser," said Dan Prescott Jr., a certified financial planner who has been with Edward Jones for 13 years. "I was looking at different locations around town, and most of them were just a stone's throw away from other Edward Jones offices."

His office will be the seventh Edward Jones location in Medford and the 20th in Jackson and Josephine counties.

Prescott acquired a once highly priced .23-acre lot last March for $53,366 and has begun work on a two-story, 3,059-square-foot building across from residences on Brownridge. Construction permit data indicated the building will cost $388,279.

Three lots to the south, the operators of Premier Care Dental Center have acquired the former European Touch Day Spa and Salon building constructed in 2008.

"During the recession, people were plain cautious," said Tom Fischer of Coldwell Banker Commercial NW, whose firm played a role in both recent transactions. "Even though their business may have been profitable, they're cautious because of interest rates and not knowing which way the economy was going. Today people feel much better, and they are starting to think long-term."

The last time the spa building changed hands, in September 2011, the price was $1,334,623. Last month, the 5,307-square-foot structure sold for $650,000.

"The day spa owner ran into the consequences of the recession," Fischer said. "The owner was doing well going in ... it was one of those businesses hardest hit when people looked for ways to cut expenses."

Although there are fewer empty commercial buildings than at the height of the recession, especially bigger than 30,000 square feet, values have yet to firm up, Fischer said.

"There is still enough inventory that it's often more worthwhile to buy an existing building and repurpose it rather than build," he said. "But there are people who have a desire for a certain type of building. They want the right location and the right type of building for how they have envisioned their business and how it is going to perform."

Another element slowing development, said Bernie Young, an agent with Coldwell Banker NW, was that the former PremierWest Bank wanted to sell the five bare lots in bulk. AmericanWest Bank, which later acquired PremierWest, elected to sell the lots individually, and all of them have sold.

Premier Care Dental Center currently has locations in Ashland and Jacksonville. City records indicate the practice is spending about $130,000 to renovate the interior. Telephone messages left at both locations were not returned.

"The way the day spa was built, it was pretty close to what (Premier Care Dental Center) needed," Fischer said. "Especially for a dental practice, that's pretty good. With the recession ending and the number of people having access to health care, they're needing a place to go."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31, and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/ Economic Edge.

Ben Van Hulzen, left, with Buntin Construction, Tanner Fairrington, with the city of Medford Building Department, and Terry Buntin, with Buntin Construction, work Thursday on the foundation for a new Edward Jones building off East McAndrews Road in Medford. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch