Note: This story was last updated at 9:20 p.m.
The North Carolina company that wants to redevelop the former Oak Ridge Mall as Main Street Oak Ridge could close on the property in June, an executive said Monday.
The mixed-use project could include retailers, restaurants, and residential units, as well as a hotel. Belk and JCPenney, the two remaining anchor stores at the mostly empty mall, would remain, said James Downs, partner in Crosland Southeast, the North Carolina company that has proposed the long-awaited redevelopment of the roughly 60-acre site.
Downs said Main Street Oak Ridge will include a total of about 325,000 square feet of retail space, or about 200,000 square feet of retail space more than what Belk and JCPenney have now. There would then be a total of about 600,000 square feet in the area.
Main Street Oak Ridge could have 153 residential units, including spaces for rent in three-story buildings above retail outlets, open space near the center of the development, and possibly as many as 30 retailers or more.
“We are within striking distance of getting the project into development,” Downs said. “It appears like everything is moving in the right direction…We are on track and on schedule.”
Developers hope to have a grand opening in the fall of 2016.
“We have tenants that have committed, and we have many more than should follow in the near term,” Downs said.
But the tenants, who have not been disclosed, will decide when to make announcements, he said.
Downs said construction work and the demolition of enclosed space between anchor stores could start at about the same time as the closing.
“As soon as we close, we want to start right away,” he said after a Monday evening work session for the Oak Ridge Municipal Planning Commission and Traffic Safety Advisory Board.
The project could include a new stoplight on Rutgers Avenue and outdoor dining and outdoor seating near the open space. Existing buildings could get facelifts.
Downs said Crosland Southeast is finalizing a contract with a hotel manager.
The announcement by CVMR on Friday that it would move its global operations from Toronto to Oak Ridge, invest $313 million, and create 620 jobs is helpful, although it doesn’t change the near-term plans for the first phase of Main Street Oak Ridge.
But, “it strengthens the Oak Ridge story,” Downs said.
He said the city has not been the easiest to sell when it comes to attracting national retailers, either new or returning.
“It’s a stamp of validation,” Downs said of the announcement by CVMR, a metal powder manufacturing company. “We hope this lifts the tide for everyone.”
He said Walmart and the Cinemark Tinseltown Theater are outside the project, but Crosland Southeast is working with them. The theater is now an island, and the redevelopment is expected to provide good pedestrian connectivity between the theater and Main Street Oak Ridge, including its restaurants, Downs said.
Wilson, East Main, and West Main streets would be brought up to high standards and become public roadways, developers said.
The Oak Ridge Municipal Planning Commission will consider a rezoning and planned unit development, or PUD, plan for Main Street Oak Ridge on March 26. The Oak Ridge City Council will then consider the rezoning and PUD plan on first and second reading in April.
More information will be added as it becomes available.