Note: This story was updated at 9:44 p.m.
A rezoning approved by Oak Ridge City Council on Monday could allow Kroger to move into a new store that would almost double its space.
The company has been interested in expanding in Oak Ridge for about four years, said Paul Xhajanka, Kroger real estate manager in Atlanta, Ga. However, that hasn’t been possible at the current site at South Illinois and Rutgers avenues due to space constraints and other tenants.
So, the company now plans to move a few miles north to a 25-acre development at the busy intersection of Illinois Avenue and Oak Ridge Turnpike.
Council voted 6-0 on Monday to approve a rezoning for that $30 million shopping center, which would be anchored by a 113,000-square-foot Kroger Marketplace.
As proposed, the shopping center would replace a neighborhood of about 55 homes, two hotels, a restaurant, day care center, and church. A handful of the homeowners who have agreed to sell their properties are considering whether to move their homes, Xhajanka said.
To make way for the development, the city will be asked to abandon utility easements and two short roads—Robin Lane and Iris Circle. Home demolition could begin in February, and a traffic light would be installed at Ivanhoe Road and North Illinois Avenue, Xhajanka said.
Members of the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church, a building used for church functions as well as community events such as Rotary Club and League of Women Voters meetings, agreed to sell their 3.6-site to the shopping center in a 169-12 vote on Sept. 30.
City Council will consider the Kroger rezoning on second and final reading during an Oct. 22 meeting. The shopping center, which would include 12,000 square feet of shop space and five outparcels, could open early in 2014.
Xhajanka said it will be like Kroger stores in Farragut and at Cedar Bluff Road and Kingston Pike in Knoxville. The Oak Ridge store will include such stores as a bank, Fred Meyer jeweler, and Starbucks.
Xhajanka said the new shopping center will add about 250 jobs.
He said Kroger is leasing its current space and is trying to find a tenant to sublease it.