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Businesses return to Almeda fire zone

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Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune D & S Harley-Davidson, which was destroyed in the 2020 Almeda fire, is being rebuilt north of Phoenix. Square footage will be about the same as the previous structure, but it will be spread over two buildings. One will house the showroom, while the other will be devoted to motorcycle maintenance.
After 77 commercial structures were lost in the 2020 blaze, signs of a comeback start to be seen

A couple of rebuilds on commercial lots torched in the Almeda fire will reopen over the next two months, with a Dairy Queen at the north Ashland Interstate 5 exit set for late April and D & S Harley-Davidson north of Phoenix before Memorial Day.

In between those businesses, 15 permits for devastated commercial sites have been issued in Phoenix and Talent, with work nearly complete in some cases and yet to begin in others.

Phoenix has issued permits for rebuilds on five of 41 commercial sites that suffered fire losses. In Talent, 10 commercial permits have been issued following the loss of 61 structures.

On Jackson County land in the fire area, 77 commercial structures were lost or suffered major damage. Rebuild permits have been issued for 36 of those businesses. The new Dairy Queen and D & S Harley are in the county

The new Dairy Queen replaces a Burger King that burned off of Valley View Road. Owner Jason Federico hopes the opening will help bring the community together. He already owns three other Dairy Queens in Southern Oregon — two in Grants Pass and one in White City.

“My wife and I went back and forth. It’s a big commitment on our part, but if we can be part of the community rebuilding, it’s going to be tough in the beginning, but it will be a place where the DQ community can come together,” said Federico. “The community was really shredded.”

Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune A new Dairy Queen is being built where a Burger King burned down off Valley View Road in Ashland.

Federico’s in-laws had owned the Burger King before selling it to a group in 2010. After the fire, the Federicos purchased the property. They both had worked in a Dairy Queen in Ashland that closed in the early 2000s.

A soft opening in middle to late April is planned, said Federico. The store is awaiting arrival of walk-in coolers and freezers, delayed by supply chain issues. Staff hiring began a few weeks ago. Federico said the store will have 20 to 30 workers depending on the volume of business.

R.A. Murphy Construction is building the new restaurant. It will be about 2,200 square feet and include a covered outdoor seating area that may include fans for the summer and heaters for the winter. The building will have solar panels to provide power.

D & S Harley, at 3846 S. Pacific Highway, is tentatively set to reopen May 26, said co-owner Kim O’Toole. Outlier Construction is rebuilding the business, and ground was broken in May of last year.

Square footage will be about the same as the previous structure, but it will be spread over two buildings. One will house the showroom, while the other will be devoted to motorcycle maintenance.

The previous building had an upstairs space used for a game room and meetings that will not be rebuilt, but there will be an area outside that could accommodate meetings and events. The company has operated out of a location in south Medford since the fire.

“Business has been good. We are like a destination point. People come to us no matter where we are at,” said O’Toole. The firm is the only Harley-Davidson dealer within 150 miles in any direction.

Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Puck's Donuts is being rebuilt in Phoenix. The large pink box of 2.5-foot diameter doughnuts that sat outside the old building survived the fire and is wrapped in plastic.

In downtown Phoenix, Puck’s Donuts, 109 S. Main St., appears to be near completion, as does Superior Carpet, at 133. S. Main.

The large pink box of 2.5-foot-diameter doughnuts that sat outside the old building survived the fire and is wrapped in plastic awaiting the day when it will alert passersby to the treats inside. Attempts to contact the owners of the business were not successful. A Facebook site lists a May 19 opening.

Superior Carpet is hoping to reopen at its location in May, but there are a number of variables to deal with, said co-owner Lanette Sekreta. A building on the front of the property burned and was replaced. The shop in back survived but has a new exterior because some of the siding and trim burned.

The new building could be either a business or a residence, said Sekreta. Since the fire, the business has been operating out of a shop Sekreta and her husband have at their residence. They had moved to the Phoenix shop in 2017, and said it is a good location for business.

Other Phoenix commercial permits have been issued for Phoenix Self Storage, Bear Creek Plaza and Palm Harbor Village.

Garrison’s furniture will replace the building it lost on Highway 99 in Phoenix with a new one across from Home Depot. A March 28 groundbreaking is scheduled. The new store will include both home and sleep centers in a 32,500-square-foot structure.

Talent commercial permits cover businesses, churches and planned communities.

Among the Talent permits are a rebuild of the Rogue Valley Baptist Church at 616. S. Pacific Highway, the Oak Valley Subdivision clubhouse, and an accessory structure in the Mountain View Estates manufactured home park. A medical office has been approved at 280 S. Pacific Highway.

Several storage facilities in Talent have also received permits. A rebuild and expansion has been approved at 1006 S. Pacific Highway. South Talent Self Storage is also rebuilding.

A mixed-use commercial and residential rebuild with expansion has been approved for 245 W. Valley View Road. The building is already enclosed. Jahnke Heating and Air Conditioning, at 106 S. Pacific Highway, is in the early stages of rebuilding. Adroit Construction has erected steel framing at the site.

Also in south Talent, but outside city limits, Simple Machine winery and tasting room on the highway reopened in November after being destroyed in the blaze.

Reach Ashland freelance writer Tony Boom at gmail.com.