Contrary to my childhood assumption, the city of Talent is not named after some surprising skill someone once possessed (though that’s not to say the people of Talent don’t have talents galore—a trip to the new Makerspace will convince you otherwise). Talent, however, was actually named after A.P. Tallent, a settler who platted a site in 1889—in a town that previously had been called Wagner Creek. Wagner Creek (named after settler Jacob Wagner), was the site of Fort Wagner—a military encampment that was meant to defend the townspeople against the Indian tribes in the area, but was never actually used for that purpose. Instead, the fort became a gathering place for the growing town’s social and religious events. In 1910, Talent (now spelled with a singular L), became an incorporated city, continuing to grow over the twentieth century as I-5 brought new people and businesses to the area. Today the city of Talent is home to around 6,500 people, as well as eight city parks, numerous businesses, dining options, and upper-class entertainment venues like the Camelot Theatre. Downtown Talent is already filled with gems, but with the new development of the Gateway Project, Talent continues to grow and make history.
If you were to wander around Talent today, you may be surprised to encounter a skate bowl, a splash pad, a dog park, a riparian restoration project, several pollinator gardens, and monarch butterfly way stations. But the city of Talent has more in store than just this. According to Talent’s mayor, Darby Ayers-Flood, the upcoming Gateway Project is a “public/private development project on just over 4 acres at the entry to the historic downtown.” The goal is to provide funding for the Talent Urban Renewal Agency (TURA), and to partner with a private developer to build facilities that will serve Talent’s expanding needs for housing and commercial space. “We expect this project to set the tone for the downtown core as an expression of our community values around housing and local businesses,” continues Mayor Ayers-Flood.
If you live in or around Talent, you may have heard about meetings concerning the Gateway Project. Much of the planning was derived through community open houses and charrettes, in order to have as much citizen participation as possible. The vision is to introduce more commercial and residential space to Talent, but to have the two sectors mutually benefit each other. “This project is lovely and will be a reflection of Talent in a very unique way,” finishes Mayor Ayers-Flood. So while we don’t forget Talent’s historic origins, the entire Rogue Valley is curious to see the Gateway Project’s implementation, and what future-Talent will look like in the years to come.
City of Talent (2019). Historic Talent. Website: http://www.cityoftalent.org/Page.asp?NavID=72