Note: This story was last updated at 9 a.m. July 2.
A site plan was submitted on Monday for Main Street Oak Ridge, an official said. Main Street Oak Ridge is the eagerly anticipated $80 million project to redevelop the former Oak Ridge Mall.
The site plan is under review by the Oak Ridge city staff and could be discussed during an Oak Ridge Municipal Planning Commission work session on July 9 and during a regular meeting on July 16.
A site plan is an engineered construction drawing that includes the layout of buildings and parking, utility plans, traffic and pedestrian circulation, and stormwater management, said Kathryn Baldwin, Oak Ridge Community Development director. There would still be building plans for the construction of each building at the 60-acre site.
The Oak Ridge City Council approved a preliminary planned unit development, or PUD, master plan for Main Street Oak Ridge this spring. It identified such things as land uses plus overall site characteristics, height, and pedestrian connectivity. The site plan is the next step. Baldwin said a PUD plan can be a page or two, while this site plan is 30-40 pages.
She said the city has also received and is considering a preliminary subdivision plat that details construction plans for East and West Main Street and Wilson Street, which are private roads but could become public streets. A final plat would later record those roads as public right-of-way.
Baldwin said there is a lot of work to do between now and the July 9 and July 16 Planning Commission meetings, so it’s possible those dates could change.
The redevelopment has been proposed by Crosland Southeast of North Carolina. Main Street Oak Ridge would redevelop the mall as a mixed-use project that would include retailers, restaurants, residential units, and a hotel. The existing space between the two remaining anchors, Belk and JCPenney, would be demolished, although those two stores would remain.
In March, developers announced they had signed their first anchor store lease. In May, they announced that Atlanta-based MDC development group, through its affiliated company Canterfield Hotel Group LLC, will build a new 120-room hotel at the site.
“Crosland is continuing to push toward closing on the property and the start of the demolition,” Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch said Wednesday afternoon. “I know they’re working as hard as they can.”
There had been hopes that a groundbreaking and demolition of the existing space between anchor stores would start by June 30, and a few readers have asked what happened. But several city officials said this is a large, very complex project, and just like with a closing on a house, a much-less complicated transaction, there are sometimes unexpected delays.
Baldwin cited one example of a complexity that’s not even visible to most people. There is a vault at the site that contains a “number of utilities” that has been paved over that will have to be removed before a building can be erected over that spot. Workers will have to trace those utilities and others from beginning to end to determine if they can be abandoned, she said. Some of the utilities will have to be located by historical documents, engineering plans, and what the city has learned over the years, backed up by verification in the field.
Gooch said Main Street Oak Ridge is a complex deal and transaction, with multiple parties and multiple lenders. Other prospective developers and business leaders have echoed that sentiment over the years, pointing out the utilities, easements, covenants, and deed restrictions at the site, making it more difficult to develop than a project at a previously undeveloped site.
Still, Gooch said, “I continue to be very hopeful that we will get started on this.” Crosland has committed to having the site open to retailers by Thanksgiving 2016, he said.
“It’s going to happen,” Gooch said. “It’s just getting over the finish line.”
Several current and former city officials have said Crosland Southeast is the ideal company to pull off the redevelopment.
Gooch concurred, citing the company’s commitment to the project and the city.
“We’re very fortunate,” he said.
See a copy of the most recent development plan published by Oak Ridge Today: Main Street Oak Ridge Site Plan April 16, 2015.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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