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Dispensary, food carts proposed in Ashland

[Photo by Nancy McClain] The circa-1969 gas station at 2366 Ashland St., Ashland, was remodeled last year to accommodate a marijuana dispensary and food trucks.
Historical gas station remodeled for modern gathering space

A new business proposed on the site of a historical gas station in Ashland seeks to combine food trucks and a cannabis dispensary to create a unique gathering place.

Brandon Goldman, Planning Manager of the Ashland Community Development Department, said the business owner has applied with the city to put two food carts, a bike rack, a seating area and a fire pit at 2366 Ashland St., with a marijuana dispensary in the main building. The name would be Kingston Cannabis.

“A one-stop shop for munchies and, uh, the thing itself,” Goldman said.

The application is still in the public comment period, but city staff are recommending approval, Goldman said.

The Planning Commission has been discussing making it easier for food trucks to come to Ashland, Goldman said. Food carts looking to operate in the city have to apply for conditional use permits 45 days in advance.

Goldman acknowledged that because food carts are mobile in nature, the permit process can make it hard for them to operate.

The application included traffic projections to give Oregon Department of Transportation a chance to evaluate the impact on transportation in the area.

ODOT public information officer Gary Leaming said ODOT foresees no traffic problems from the proposed business.

“Ashland’s pretty small right? If you like a place, you can ride your bike,” local land use consultant Amy Gunter said.

Gunter, who operates as a middleman between business owners or contractors and city development officials, said she has been hoping for something like this in Ashland for a long time.

The business person applying for the site could not be reached for comment.

The swept wing roof building was built in 1969, in an architectural style heralded as the “new look” for Philips 66 gas stations in 1960. By 2021 when the remodel began, the rare building was in poor shape.

“It’s an iconic building. I’m not sure how many of these gas stations ... are still around,” Steve Asher, president of Asher Homes and contractor for the project. Asher, who has lived in Ashland for 62 years, said the building holds special memories.

“I knew the owner, Rex Bounds. He was gracious. He taught me and the other kids how to work on cars,” Asher said, remembering Bounds making the boys work the pumps in exchange for space, tools and guidance.

Once he knew the restoration would respect the building’s architectural character, Asher said, he was happy to join the project he described as a battle every step of the way.

The building had sloped floors with old-fashioned hydraulic lifts. The floor had to be built up to achieve ADA compliance.

The parking area wasn’t built right in 1960; Asher’s crew removed the asphalt and yards of dirt and rebuilt it. Rainfall now can flow into a storm drain properly. The trusses underneath the building’s unique roof were rusted; the roof was restructured. The windows were replaced, along with new plumbing, wiring and insulation.

“Once you get to a certain step, you have to do the whole enchilada,” Asher said of the building’s gutting and remodel.

Despite the struggles and setbacks, Asher said he was optimistic about what the business could be: a new gathering space for Ashland.

“I’m just excited to see people out there having fun, gathering together,” he said.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Morgan Rothborne at mrothborne@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4487. Follow her on Twitter @MRothborne.