ASHLAND, OR-Oregon Shakespeare Festival officials are breaking ground today on a four-story, 33,000-sf theater building here expected to be ready for the internationally-known theater company’s 2002 season. The $10 million project is being paid for with funds from a three-year-old, $20 million capital campaign whose largest contributors include billionaires Bill Gates and Paul Allen of Microsoft fame, and Bill Joy of Sun Microsystems.

The theater will replace the Black Swan Theater, a converted car dealership that will now be used for new play development and the organization’s myriad educational events. OSF’s other existing stages include the Agnus Bowmer Theater, opened in 1977, and the outdoor Elizabethan stage where performances have been showing since the mid-1930s.

The new theater project is beginning despite the continuing efforts of two people to stop it. Psychologist Philip Lang and self-employed architect and builder Colin Swales appealed the city planning commission’s 8-1 approval of the project to the City Council, and then the City Council’s unanimous approval to the state Land Use Board of Appeals, which isn’t expected to rule on the case for some six months. Nonetheless, Lang and Swales, who could not immediately be reached for comment, have not attempted to block construction. It would require the posting of a $5,000 bond and a demonstration of the “irreparable harm” they would suffer from its construction.

Their argument is that the design of the building violates a part of Ashland’s design code that was crafted to stop big-box retailers like Wal-Mart, not a new theater by OSF, by far the city’s largest tourist attraction. That part of the design code prohibits “new buildings or contiguous groups of buildings” larger than 45,000 sf. Lang and Swales argument is that the theater and an adjacent new parking garage total 78,000-sf. The problem with the argument is the two structures aren’t connected, albeit only separated by about four feet.

OSF executive director Paul Nicholson, who is confident his organization will prevail, tells GlobeSt. that Lang and Swales motives are less than pure. “This is not about the theater,” Nicholson says matter-of-factly. “You don’t want to hear the whole story.”

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Once you are an ALM digital member, you’ll receive:

  • Unlimited access to GlobeSt and other free ALM publications
  • Access to 15 years of GlobeSt archives
  • Your choice of GlobeSt digital newsletters and over 70 others from popular sister publications
  • 1 free article* every 30 days across the ALM subscription network
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM events and publications

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?


© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.

Dig Deeper

GlobeSt Net Lease Spring 2024Event

This conference brings together the industry's most influential & knowledgeable real estate executives from the net lease sector.

Get More Information


Join GlobeSt

Don't miss crucial news and insights you need to make informed commercial real estate decisions. Join now!

  • Free unlimited access to's trusted and independent team of experts who provide commercial real estate owners, investors, developers, brokers and finance professionals with comprehensive coverage, analysis and best practices necessary to innovate and build business.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and GlobeSt events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including and

Already have an account? Sign In Now
Join GlobeSt

Copyright © 2024 ALM Global, LLC. All Rights Reserved.