A vote that could help Main Street Oak Ridge, the redevelopment of the former Oak Ridge Mall, is on Thursday’s agenda. So is an open house on the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park.
They are among two of the biggest projects in Oak Ridge in years, and both are considered key parts of an economic renaissance that also includes new business development along Oak Ridge Turnpike and South Illinois Avenue, a new Kroger Marketplace shopping center, the proposed multi-billion-dollar Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex, and the announcement by metal powder manufacturing company CVMR this month that it will move its operations from Toronto to Oak Ridge, investing $313 million and adding 620 jobs.
A rezoning has been requested for Main Street Oak Ridge. It will be considered by the Oak Ridge Municipal Planning Commission during a meeting that starts at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 26, in the Oak Ridge Municipal Building Courtroom. The Planning Commission will also consider a planned unit development, or PUD, master plan for the project.
The roughly 60-acre redevelopment has been proposed by Crosland Southeast of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Main Street Oak Ridge is a mixed-use project that could include retailers, residential units, restaurants, and a hotel. The mall’s two remaining anchor stores, Belk and JCPenney, would remain, but the existing space between anchor stores would be demolished. Main Street Oak Ridge would include a total of about 325,000 square feet of retail space.
Crosland Southeast aims to close on the property in June and have a grand opening in the fall of 2016.
“We are within striking distance of getting the project into development,” Crosland Southeast partner James Downs said during a presentation in Oak Ridge last week. “It appears like everything is moving in the right direction…We are on track and on schedule.”
The open house will include officials from the National Park Service and U.S. Department of Energy. They are visiting Oak Ridge to begin planning for the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which was approved by Congress in December and signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 19. The planning team is expected to include senior National Park Service representatives from Washington, D.C., the Southeastern Regional Office in Atlanta, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Big South Fork.
The open house is scheduled from 10 to 11 a.m. Thursday, March 26, in the A/B Room at the Oak Ridge Civic Center. It’s open to the public and hosted by the City of Oak Ridge.
The delegation will also include the U.S. Department of Energy’s chief historian, as well as the DOE’s senior consultant for historic preservation, and DOE representatives from Los Alamos and Hanford.
“We are honored to host our distinguished visitors as they travel to Oak Ridge to see first-hand the assets we have to offer,” Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch said. “The open house will provide an opportunity for our community to meet and interact with the planning team as they begin implementation of this innovative three-site national park. On behalf of City Council, I encourage citizens to attend this important event.”
The Manhattan Project National Historical Park legislation designates sites in Oak Ridge; Los Alamos, New Mexico; and Hanford, Washington as a three-site national park. The law recognizes the Manhattan Project as one of the most significant events in U.S. history, with assets and history that must be preserved.