Work has started to move homes on Iris Circle and Robin Lane to make way for a 25-acre Kroger Marketplace shopping center at Oak Ridge Turnpike and North Illinois Avenue.
Five homes were off their foundations in the small neighborhood in central Oak Ridge on Monday, raised on steel beams and stacked wooden piers. Work had started on a few others.
Among those relocating their homes is George Royster, a five-year neighborhood resident who helped lead the crusade against the $30 million development.
“I was against it,” Royster said. “I thought I could stop it if I was the only holdout.”
Royster, who moved to Oak Ridge from Cosby and bought his home in 2007, said he wanted to keep his white 868-square-foot house, which is almost six decades old. He’s spent about $20,000 on it in the past five years, including on double-pane windows and a metal shingle roof with a 50-year warranty.
He got his wish. He gets to keep his home. Royster closed on a slightly smaller lot on East Fairview Road on Wednesday, and he filed for a building permit on Monday. He expects to relocate his two-bedroom, one-bath home and live in it again by January.
“It’s really worked out well for me,” said Royster, a former respiratory therapist who took early retirement and now works part-time at Walmart.
He declined to disclose the sale price for his 0.21-acre lot on Iris Circle, but he said it was “more than fair.” Money to move the home was held in escrow out of the sales price, he said.
The Oak Ridge City Council has already approved a new stoplight on North Illinois Avenue for the new shopping center, which will feature a 113,000-square-foot Kroger Marketplace and could open early in 2014. Council has also approved rezonings for the project and agreed to give up Iris Circle and Robin Lane to make way for the development.
The shopping center will replace a neighborhood of about 55 homes, two hotels, a restaurant, day care center, and church.
Paul Xhajanka, Kroger real estate manager in Atlanta, Ga., has said home demolition at the site could begin in February.