The Kroger Marketplace is expected to open June 29.
The new, larger Kroger store is under construction at Oak Ridge Turnpike and Illinois Avenue. Among other things, it will include a pharmacy, Little Clinic, Starbucks Coffee, Fred Meyer Jewelry, Sun Trust Bank, and fuel center.
The older, smaller Kroger store a few miles away on South Illinois Avenue will shut down after the Kroger Marketplace opens. The new 123,000-square-foot store is in a $33 million shopping center that is still under construction. The 25-acre site has been named the Westcott Center in honor of Ed Westcott, the official government photographer in Oak Ridge during the top-secret Manhattan Project in World War II.
It will be Kroger’s fifth store in Oak Ridge, and it could add more than 165 jobs, providing a “tipping point” for economic development, officials said during a groundbreaking ceremony in August. Kroger said then that employment at the store could grow from 135 associates to 300.
The new store is expected to also include a bistro, fresh sushi, home center, baby section, an expanded natural and organic section, and apparel and shoes.
It’s the largest in a series of retail construction projects recently under way, including on Oak Ridge Turnpike and Illinois Avenue. It could be joined later by the redevelopment of the Oak Ridge Mall.
Officials and executives characterized the Kroger development as the product of persistence, hard work, and many hours of overtime. It included the acquisition of 57 properties, including dozens of homes in small neighborhoods on the former Robin Lane and Iris Circle, and the purchase of the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church, which has been used for many community events. Some of the homes were demolished, and others were moved. The UU church is building a new home near the Joe L. Evins Federal Building, which houses the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office. The current church has not been torn down yet.
The Westcott Center could include some small shop space as well, and the site will allow four to five outparcels with unidentified tenants.
Meanwhile, Food Lion announced this week that it could close its store in Oak Ridge by June 20 because the company decided not to renew its lease at its Emory Valley Road location.