Unitarian church to consider moving for commercial development

Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church

The congregation of the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church will consider a commercial development company’s request to move.

A commercial development firm based in Georgia has asked members of a well-used Oak Ridge church if they would be willing to relocate, moving away from a busy intersection where a shopping center is planned.

The board of the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church has agreed to have the congregation consider the offer, which was proposed by Blanchard and Calhoun of Augusta, Ga., minister Jake Morrill said Friday.

“A decision like this could only be made by the congregation,” he said.

The 250-member congregation could consider the proposal this fall, although no decision date has been set, Morrill said.

The church is located on 3.6 acres just east of the intersection of Oak Ridge Turnpike and Illinois Avenue. Besides church functions, it’s also used for a variety of community events, including Rotary Club and League of Women Voters meetings.

Morrill said no potential sales price has been mentioned, and the offer is still in the early stages.

“They’re just wondering if it would be possible,” he said.

He said the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church was built in 1956. A 1997 expansion added an entryway and sanctuary.

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  • kay williamson

    I don’t want to knock this church for their decision, but I have a question, Who’s going to shop these mega stores coming in??? Haven’t you all done this before with the MALL (THAT NOW SIT’S EMPTY)!! I am just saying…………..

    • Mare Martell

      I was thinking the same thing. Why don’t they buy the mall and leave the church where it is?

  • matt n

    Stop asking/forcing people to move and instead make use of all of the vacant commercial properties around town.

  • Ray Evans

    It’s my understanding that these folks looked at every available piece of commercial property in town but found none that came close to meeting the acreage criteria of their client.

    • Mare Martell

      It’s 3.4 acres. I’m pretty sure the mall area is bigger than that.

  • Ray Evans

    The total acreage under contract is well over twenty acres not just 3.4 acres. The Mall property is about 62 acres. As I understand it he Mall was one of the first property that this group looked at.

    When Crown American sold the property to Wal-Mart for their expansion Crown agreed to a deed restriction that would not allow a full service grocery nor any business 95,000 SF or greater on the remainder of the Crown property. That same restriction is in place today. Therefore, the Mall property was not a viable option for this development.

  • Mike M

    Ray,

    What will be built on this area? I’m all for economic development. I’ve heard that Kroger is interested in building a superstore on that parcel and make something like a bigger Manhattan Place.

    I was in favor of the Target. I certainly have nothing against Kroger but if true what would happen to the current Kroger building? Would we have yet another empty eye-soar to look at? I think that merchants that move should foster/support a reclamation plan, of some sort.

    I am not a member of the Unitarian church but that church is almost an institution in OR. I hope they factor that into their plan. Of course we know a church is people, not a building, so I’m site they will make the best decision for them, independent of others, which they should.

    I must say I am glad to see possible expansion of retail opportunities.

    • Ray Evans

      Mike

      I don’t know what all is proposed for the site. I’ve heard a bit of speculative but nothing specific.

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