Demolition work is under way, and construction could start this fall on a new Kroger Marketplace shopping center in Oak Ridge that is expected to include a range of services from a fuel center and sushi shop to a drive-through pharmacy and Baby World.
Demolition at the shopping center—named the Westcott Center in honor of renowned photographer James Edward Westcott—began Monday, July 29, said Glynn Jenkins, director of communications and public relations for the The Kroger Co.’s Atlanta Division. Home demolition work is expected to be completed by Aug. 23.
The demolition of the former Super 8 motel, Vista Inn, and Cancun’s restaurant on Oak Ridge Turnpike and North Illinois Avenue is expected to start next week.
There could be a groundbreaking ceremony this month, and building construction is scheduled to start in early October, Jenkins said.
“The new site will feature a 123,000-square-foot Kroger Marketplace store,” Jenkins said. “Once complete, the Kroger Marketplace store will include a nine-dispenser Kroger Fuel Center and will earn the EPA’s Energy Star certifications for superior energy performance.
“The Oak Ridge Kroger Marketplace will offer such services and specialist shops such as Fred Meyer jewelry, Kroger Little Clinic, drive-through pharmacy, Starbucks Coffee, a Bistro, Sushi, Baby World, and Apparel.”
A grand opening is tentatively scheduled for July of 2014, and the Westcott Center is scheduled to open in August 2014.
Jenkins said the project has received final approval.
There is some rock on the site, but Jenkins said blasting it will be Kroger’s last option.
“While there is rock on site, we do not know for certain whether it will be encountered, but, if so, a ram hoe will be the removal method,” Jenkins said.
The heavy equipment at the site now—including bulldozers, dump trucks, excavators, loaders, and scrapers—is used for grading, Jenkins said.
“Site grading will be an ongoing process that will run for approximately 10 to 12 weeks during construction,” he said.
Oak Ridge Today asked if the 25-acre project, which has been estimated to cost $30 million, has been delayed by the rainy weather in East Tennessee this year and whether developers had encountered any problems with asbestos. Some homes have been moved to new locations, and others have been demolished.
“Asbestos has been removed from the homes being demolished, and the project is currently on schedule,” Jenkins said.
He said Kroger can’t announce any other tenants yet.
“It is extremely important to us that the new Kroger Marketplace offer even more choices and convenience for our loyal customers,” Jenkins said. “Our approach at Kroger, whether new or remodeled, is to continue to provide shoppers with a convenient location, variety of products, fast checkout, and lower prices to create a rewarding shopping experience—and the Oak Ridge location is no exception.”
The shopping center is named after Westcott, the official government photographer in Oak Ridge during World War II, when the city was quickly constructed as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project to help build the world’s first atomic weapons.
Jenkins said the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church will remain at the corner of Oak Ridge Turnpike and Robertsville Road until a new church is completed in 2014. Church members agreed in September to sell their property to the shopping center.