The project could include retail, hotel, office, and residential properties, and generate more than $2 million per year in new city and county sales tax revenues, consultant says
Note: This story was last updated at 2 p.m.
The North Carolina company that wants to redevelop the Oak Ridge Mall has unveiled its site plan for the 60-acre property.
The $80 million redevelopment could include new retail, hotel, office, and residential properties. It would create almost 1,000 new jobs and increase annual city and county sales tax revenues by more than $2 million, according to an estimate by a city consultant.
The two remaining anchor stores at the 500,000-square-foot mall, JCPenney and Belk, would stay. So would Walmart and the Cinemark Tinseltown theater.
Meanwhile, the existing interior space between the anchor stores would be demolished. Previous mall redevelopment plans had also called for demolishing that interior retail space.
The private investment in the project would be about $80 million.
“Our vision for this redevelopment effort is to construct a ‘new downtown’ for Oak Ridge that will restore a sense of community and has the potential to make a positive impact on the region as a whole,” said Tim Sittema, partner at Crosland Southeast, the North Carolina company that has had the property under contract since early this year. The company signed a contract in late January to buy the mostly empty mall from Oak Ridge City Center LLC, although the deal hasn’t closed yet.
A press release said Crosland Southeast representatives will meet in the next several days with the Oak Ridge Industrial Development Board to consider a tax increment financing, or TIF, plan to help develop the site. A TIF plan uses new property tax revenues generated at a site to help pay for its development.
A meeting to consider the the TIF had been scheduled for Thursday, but it has been postponed to allow the IDB to update its policy to reflect current state law.
The mall TIF would follow the model used for the recent development of Woodland Town Center on South Illinois Avenue, where Panera Bread and Aubrey’s restaurant are located, but on a much larger scale. City officials have said the mall TIF could be worth up to $10 million, and the money could be used to help pay for infrastructure improvements ranging from rerouted roadways and new traffic lights to building upgrades and property demolition.
“With the success of the South Illinois Avenue project, we are very positive about this financing approach that puts no taxpayer money at risk and requires the developer to assume all the financial risk,” said Oak Ridge economic development consultant Ray Evans.
Mall redevelopment plans have languished since 2002, when Oak Ridge voters rejected a controversial $23.2 million bond resolution that would have supported a plan to convert the mall into a town square that would have included new school administration headquarters and a senior citizens center.
The press release said Crosland Southeast is known for turning around difficult real estate projects.
“An experienced developer like Crosland has demonstrated an ability to take on challenging sites and turn them into long-term assets,” Oak Ridge Mayor Tom Beehan said. “We’ve worked hard to expand retail opportunities in our community and we are seeing very positive results from these efforts. Crosland brings credibility and experience to the table, and we look forward to working with them to create a more vibrant ‘center city’ for Oak Ridge.”
Sittema said the introduction of new retailers and restaurants, offices, residences, and public spaces would differentiate the mall project from all others in the area, thus “catering to a broader constituency.
“Every community needs public places to gather and we are working hard to make this vision a reality for Oak Ridge,” Sittema said. “We are privileged to have the opportunity to work with this community on such a transformative project. We pledge to do our part in creating an attractive, economically viable project that retailers and other businesses will want to be a part of. With the support of the IDB, the city, the county and our other partners and stakeholders, we will work very hard to make this happen.”
Crosland Southeast has headquarters in Charlotte, N.C., and an office in Raleigh, N.C. The company has developed retail and mixed-use properties in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Some of its other projects include Biltmore Park Town Square in Asheville, N.C., and Providence Marketplace in Mt. Juliet, Tenn.
For more information, visit www.CroslandSoutheast.com.
See the mall master plan as a larger PDF file that can be downloaded: Oak Ridge Mall Master Plan.
More information will be added as it becomes available.